US greenhouse gas emissions tumbled below their 1990 level for the first-time last year as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC reports: A preliminary assessment from research group Rhodium says that overall emissions were down over 10%, the largest fall since World War II. Transport suffered the biggest decline, with emissions down almost 15% over 2019. Energy emissions also fell sharply, due to a decline in the use of coal. With stay-at-home orders in place, economic activity ground to a halt in March and April and this had significant implications for greenhouse gas emissions.
In transport, the restrictions on international travel and non-essential journeys saw demand for fuel fall sharply. At the peak of restrictions demand for jet fuel was down 68% on 2019, with petrol down 40%. They have both bounced back as travel bans were eased later in the year but jet fuel demand was still 35% down in December compared to the previous year. When it comes to electricity though the picture is more complicated. Overall the demand for electricity was down just 2% but emissions fell by over 10%. After decades of dominance, coal in 2020 was the third largest source of power, behind natural gas and nuclear. Renewables now supply 18% of power, the report says, just behind coal with 20% of the market.
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