Reducing Carbon Footprints with Natural Gas

If you’ve recently zoomed down the highway in your car, heated your home, hopped on an airplane or had a steak, it’s likely you’ve left behind a carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions produced, directly and indirectly, by your activities. It helps us measure how human activity affects our climate. While the collective global carbon footprint remains a point of concern, the United States has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to increased use of natural gas.

Until 2016, electricity generation was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The rise in energy efficient buildings and appliances, along with the switch from coal to natural gas to fuel power plants, were significant factors in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2005 and 2016, greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector dropped by over half. According to climate advocacy group Carbon Brief, since 2005, natural gas has reduced 50 percent more emissions than wind and solar energy combined.

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is critical for our environment, but overall air quality is also a factor in human health. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that air pollution leads to 6.5 million deaths annually, citing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter emissions as the most deadly sources. Fortunately, natural gas emits less sulfur dioxide than other fossil fuels and produces almost no nitrogen oxide or fine particulate matter.

Although reducing the global carbon footprint is a challenging task, adopting and continuing to use cleaner fuels like natural gas has moved us in the right direction.