Understanding Long-Term Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the USA

32 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2006

See all articles by Richard S. J. Tol

Richard S. J. Tol

VU University Amsterdam - Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM); Carnegie Mellon University - Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change; University of Hamburg - Centre for Marine and Climate Research (ZMK); Princeton University

Stephen W. Pacala

Princeton University

Robert Socolow

Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University

Date Written: August 2006

Abstract

We compile a database of energy uses, energy sources, and carbon dioxide emissions for the USA for the period 1850-2002. We use a model to extrapolate the missing observations on energy use by sector. Overall emission intensity rose between 1850 and 1917, and fell between 1917 and 2002. The leading cause for the rise in emission intensity was the switch from wood to coal, but population growth, economic growth, and electrification contributed as well. After 1917, population growth, economic growth and electrification pushed emissions up further, and there was no net shift from fossil to non-fossil energy sources. From 1850 to 2002, emissions were reduced by technological and behavioural change (particularly in transport, manufacturing and households), structural change in the economy, and a shift from coal to oil and gas. These trends are stronger than electrification, explaining the fall in emissions relative to GDP.

Keywords: Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Decomposition, Environmental Kuznets Curve, USA, History

JEL Classification: Q5,Q4, Q0

Suggested Citation

Tol, Richard S. J. and Pacala, Stephen W. and Socolow, Robert, Understanding Long-Term Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the USA (August 2006). FEEM Working Paper No. 107.06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=927741 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.927741

Richard S. J. Tol (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) ( email )

De Boelelaan 1115
Amsterdam, 1081 HV
Netherlands
+31 20 444 9555 (Phone)
+31 20 444 9553 (Fax)

Carnegie Mellon University - Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

University of Hamburg - Centre for Marine and Climate Research (ZMK)

Troplowitzstrasse 7
D-22529 Hamburg
Germany

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Stephen W. Pacala

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

Robert Socolow

Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

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