What are the main sources of CO2 emissions in 2023?

Pro Search

The main sources of CO2 emissions in 2023 are primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for energy use, including electricity generation, heat, and transportation. Other significant sources include industrial processes and certain land use activities.
  1. Energy Use: The burning of fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, and petroleum—for energy use is a primary source of CO2 emissions. In the United States, petroleum-related CO2 emissions increased by 8% in 2021, and it was forecasted that they would increase by another 5% in 2022 and an additional 1% in 2023 as travel activity continues to increase. CO2 emissions from natural gas were expected to rise by 1% in both 2022 and 2023. Coal CO2 emissions were forecasted to fall by 3% in 2022 and remain mostly flat in 2023.
  2. Electricity Generation: Coal is the primary CO2 emissions source related to electricity generation. In 2022, the electric power sector accounted for about 38% of total U.S. primary energy consumption and for about 31% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions. Coal accounted for 55% and natural gas for 43% of electric power sector CO2 emissions.
  3. Transportation: The transportation sector generates a significant share of CO2 emissions. In 2021, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for 28% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The largest sources of transportation greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were light-duty trucks, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, passenger cars, and commercial aircraft.
  4. Industry: Direct industrial greenhouse gas emissions accounted for 23% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, making it the third largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, after the Transportation and Electric Power sectors. Natural gas was the highest source of industrial sector CO2 emissions in 2022.
  5. Land Use and Forestry: CO2 can also be emitted from direct human-induced impacts on forestry and other land use, such as through deforestation, land clearing for agriculture, and degradation of soils. However, land can also remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, improvement of soils, and other activities.
Globally, the key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases (F-gases). The primary source of CO2 is fossil fuel use. Global greenhouse gas emissions can also be broken down by the economic activities that lead to their production: Electricity and Heat Production (23% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions), Industry (24% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions), Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (22% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions), Transportation (15% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions), Buildings (6% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions), and Other Energy (10% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions). It's important to note that while CO2 emissions are still rising, research from the International Energy Agency has shown that they may be reaching a plateau, with CO2 from energy – the biggest source of emissions – increasing by less than 1% in 2022.
What are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions besides CO2?
How do CO2 emissions from transportation compare to other sources?
What are some ways to reduce CO2 emissions in the electric power sector?