New Report Shows U.S. Emissions Down, But More Must Be Done

new report released by Rhodium Group, LLC shows that as the economy grew in 2023, the United States saw a 1.9 percent year-on-year drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing coal use—a goal the Sierra Club has worked toward for more than a decade—continues to drive down emissions, but the pace of emissions reductions across the economy falls short of what is needed to achieve the 2030 goals of the Paris climate accord.

The report cited the continued decline in emissions from reduced coal generation, as well as moderate winter temperatures across most of the country last year requiring less energy for space heating. But transportation sector emissions rose by 1.6 percent, and increases in domestic oil and gas production led to a 1% increase in industrial emissions. Earlier this year, scientists confirmed that 2023 was officially the hottest year on record, with higher temperatures and rising incidents of extreme weather making the need for meaningful progress even more urgent. 

For Holly Bender, Sierra Club’s Chief Energy Officer, decreased coal use driving down emissions is a testament to the power of the work of the organization, but more progress must be made to help ensure we achieve the levels of the Paris accord.

“Last year showed that we can make meaningful reductions to greenhouse gas emissions and grow our economy at the same time,” said Bender. “This report makes clear that although progress is being made in some areas—driven significantly by the incredible success of our Beyond Coal campaign to retire the US coal fleet by 2030—more must be done to avert the very worst of this crisis. “

Additionally, the report notes that the U.S. is beginning to see encouraging results from the continued implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). More rapid implementation of both laws could help realize the meaningful climate goals of each sooner.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a monumental opportunity for us to correct our course and achieve the targets we need to avoid catastrophe,” added Bender. “All with the benefit of creating good clean energy and infrastructure jobs along the way.”

“Last year showed that we can make meaningful reductions to greenhouse gas emissions and grow our economy at the same time."

Holly Bender, Sierra Club's Chief Energy Officer