The carbon footprint of Americans is 20.18 metric tons (MT) CO2e per person in 2017, averaged over 3 years. Compared to 2007, carbon emissions of the average American have decreased by 16.9%, at an average rate of 0.41 MT CO2e / year.

Is the US on Track to Meet its Paris Agreement Pledge?

The US pledged to reduce its emissions to 0-5% of its 1990 emissions by 2020 (Climate Action Tracker, 2020), which were 6,437 million metric tons (MMT) CO2e in 1990. The 3-year averaged emissions in the US are 6,563 MMT CO2e in 2017. Compared to 2007, carbon emissions in the US have decreased by 10.3%, at an average rate of 75 MMT CO2e / year. At this rate, the US will emit 6,338 MMT CO2e in 2020, which is a 1.5% reduction of its 1990 emissions. Therefore, the US in on track to meet its 2020 Paris Agreement pledge.

The US also pledged to reduce its emissions to 10-17% below its 1990 emissions by 2025. At the 10-year average rate of emissions reductions, the US will emit 5,963 MMT CO2e in 2025, which is a 7.4% reduction of its 1990 emissions. Therefore, the US is not on track to meet its 2025 Paris Agreement pledge.

Data and Assumptions

Emissions data is obtained from US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Inventory (EPA, 2020A).

Data does not include Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF). In 2017, the 3-year averaged carbon sequestration from LULUCF is estimated at 775 MMT CO2e (EPA, 2020B), which results in net emissions of 5,763 MMT CO2e, or 17.72 MT CO2e / person.

Historical US population data from 1990 – 2018 is obtained from the US Census Bureau (2016A, 2016B, 2018).

References

Climate Action Tracker. (2020). USA Pledges and Targets. See Link to Source

EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency. (2020A). Greenhouse Gas Inventory. See Link to Source

EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency. (2020B). Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources and Sinks 1990 – 2018. See Link to Source

US Census Bureau. (November, 2016A). State and County Intercensal Tables 1990 – 2000. See Link to Source

US Census Bureau. (November, 2016B). State Intercensal Tables 2000 – 2010. See Link to Source

US Census Bureau. (December, 2018). 2018 National and State Population Estimates. See Link to Source