2008 U.S. Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions See Biggest Drop in Nearly 30 Years

Sky-high fuel prices, declining energy use and a slumping economy gave the U.S. its largest annual decline in fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1982, when emissions fell 5.3 percent.

Energy-related CO2 emissions in 2008 fell 2.8 percent compared to the year before, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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By comparison, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) inched up a modest 1.1 percent in 2008. At the same time, energy demand shrunk 2.2 percent. This means the amount of energy used to produce one unit of GDP dropped 3.3 percent last year.

The decline in carbon dioxide intensity -- the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP -- was even more dramatic at 3.8 percent. Since 1990, U.S. carbon dioxide intensity has plummeted 29.3 percent.

By source, the electric power sector is the largest emitter of CO2 in the U.S. Power generation emissions declined 1 percent, due in part to a boost in wind generation. Coal-based emissions fell 1.1 percent.

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