Greens: US on track for 20-year low in carbon emissions

The United States’ power sector is on track to hit a 20-year low in carbon dioxide emissions, thanks largely to massive numbers of coal power plant closures, an environmental group said.

The Sierra Club’s report, prepared with the help of Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, concluded that since 2010, a third of the nation’s coal plants have closed or announced closure, driving down carbon output.

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Largely thanks to those closures — for which the Sierra Club is taking much of the credit — the United States this year is likely to reach carbon levels last seen in 1995, and will meet the goal of the 2009 cap-and-trade legislation from then-Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that failed.

“Thanks to the Beyond Coal campaign and the community leaders who have stood up against the coal industry, the U.S. is leading the world in cutting dangerous carbon pollution,” said Bloomberg, whose group has donated $80 million to the Sierra Club’s campaign.

“The domestic reductions will give President Obama a strong negotiating hand at the U.N.’s climate summit in Paris and hopefully we can help lead the rest of the world in the same direction,” he said in a statement.

The Sierra Club report, which relies on government data and independent research, concluded that the electricity sector’s carbon will fall below 2 billion tons this year for the first time in two decades, while the entire economy’s carbon will be about 5.3 million tons.