Watch Our CO2 Drop

on January 20, 2016 at 5:00 PM

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Last Tuesday, President Obama gave his final State of the Union address to Congress. Part of his speech focused on the exciting advancements being made in our energy sector, from the great strides that renewable technologies are taking towards deeper market penetration, to the drastic improvements in our nation’s energy independence, to the many jobs created to support these growing industries. At one point, he got into brass tacks about some pretty impressive numbers:

“And meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”

Let’s dive into those CO2 numbers to understand more.

President Obama was not kidding when he said that we’ve reduced carbon pollution more than any other country on earth. It’s not even close. The U.S., highlighted in green above, has reduced by four times as much carbon as its nearest neighbor.

If you were like me, you were surprised to see how drastically the U.S. has reduced its CO2 emissions compared to other countries. What’s going on there? A skeptic may point out that the U.S. has more than 300 million people, and therefore can be expected to have a much higher total amount of additions or reductions. If a tiny country made cuts — even really big ones — to their carbon emissions, it couldn’t match raw numbers with a big country like the U.S.

So let’s take a look at global carbon dioxide reductions per person. This will give us a normalized metric to work with for all countries. Clicking over to “Per Capita CO2 Emissions,” we still see some good news. Though the U.S. isn’t the leader anymore, it still has reduced its carbon pollution per person more than 90 percent of other countries. We’ve reduced our CO2 per person at almost twice the rate of our friends across the pond, the United Kingdom, and three times the rate of our neighbors to the north, Canada. These are all good signs for the U.S.

If you want to learn more about the importance of reducing our carbon pollution, read our recent report about how climate change threatens our energy infrastructure. Curious about the total amount of carbon we emit into the atmosphere? Check out this recent graphic that shows how we stacks up to other countries.