How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation?

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A coal-fired power plant in Westport, Kentucky on the Ohio River. Image Copyright © Michael Collier.
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Energy Information Administration FAQs:

"In 2016, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the U.S. electric power sector1 were 1,821 million metric tons, or about 35% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions of 5,171 million metric tons.2

CO2 emissions from U.S. electric power sector by source, 2016

Source Million Metric Tons Share of Total
Coal 1,241 68%
Natural gas 546 30%
Petroleum 21 1%
Other3 12 <1%
Total 1,821  

1 An energy-consuming sector that consists of electricity-only power plants and combined-heat-and-power plants whose primary business is to sell electricity, or electricity and heat, to the public.

Preliminary data for 2016. 

3 Includes CO2 emissions from the combustion of miscellaneous waste materials made from fossil fuels and by some types of geothermal power generation."

Learn More:

  • Electricity Sector Emissions (Webpage), Environmental Protection Agency
    Introductory information for electricity-related emissions, electricity emission trends, and how emissions can be reduced
  • Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization (Website), National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    Report on the total greenhouse gas emissions involved in generating electricity from a wide range of sources, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, and different types of solar power