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Visualized: Per Capita Electricity Emissions, by State

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Emissions-by-State-per-Capita

Per Capita Electricity Emissions by State

This was originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to see graphics related to decarbonization with a focus on the U.S. energy sector.

The U.S. is the second-largest CO₂ emitter worldwide, with electric power contributing significantly to the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic uses data from eGrid to showcase per-capita electricity emissions by state and each state’s largest source of power.

U.S. Power Sector: Second in CO₂ Emissions

According to the Global Carbon Atlas, the top three global polluters are China, the U.S., and India—accounting for half of the world’s CO₂ emissions.

The U.S., however, leads by far in terms of CO₂ emissions per capita, with 15.3 metric tons per person, while China and India have lower rates at 7.4 and 1.9, respectively.

A substantial portion of these emissions comes from electricity generation. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the electric power sector is the second-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 25% to the total.

Examining emissions per state, Wyoming, North Dakota, and West Virginia top the list of CO₂ emissions per capita, relying primarily on coal as their source of energy.

Here is a table showing emissions by state per capita, from highest to lowest:

StateCO2 emissions in tons per capita (2021)Biggest Source of Electricity (2021)
Wyoming68.77 tCoal
North Dakota37.08 tCoal
West Virginia35.84 tCoal
Kentucky13.40 tCoal
Montana11.78 tCoal
Indiana11.28 tCoal
Arkansas10.97 tCoal
Nebraska10.87 tCoal
Alabama10.61 tNatural Gas
Missouri10.20 tCoal
Utah9.95 tCoal
Mississippi9.57 tNatural Gas
New Mexico9.40 tCoal
Louisiana8.67 tNatural Gas
Iowa8.08 tWind
Kansas8.07 tWind
Oklahoma7.62 tWind
Texas6.96 tNatural Gas
Wisconsin6.92 tCoal
Pennsylvania 6.74 tNatural Gas
Ohio6.45 tNatural Gas
Colorado5.95 tCoal
Michigan 5.76 tCoal
Arizona5.41 tNatural Gas
South Carolina5.36 tNuclear
Nevada4.74 tNatural Gas
Hawaii4.73 tPetroleum
Florida4.70 tNatural Gas
Illinois 4.67 tNuclear
Georgia4.36 tNatural Gas
Minnesota4.28 tCoal
Alaska4.13 tNatural Gas
North Carolina4.11 tNatural Gas
Tennessee3.96 tNuclear
Rhode Island3.54 tNatural Gas
Virginia3.22 tNatural Gas
Connecticut3.13 tNatural Gas
South Dakota2.93 tWind
Oregon2.34 tHydro
Maryland2.16 tNuclear
New Hampshire1.88 tNuclear
Delaware 1.86 tNatural Gas
New Jersey 1.59 tNatural Gas
Washington1.44 tHydro
New York1.42 tNatural Gas
California1.21 tNatural Gas
Idaho1.20 tHydro
Maine1.19 tHydro
Massachusetts 1.18 tNatural Gas
District of Columbia0.09 tNatural Gas
Vermont0.06 tHydro

Interestingly, from the top 10 on our list, only Alabama doesn’t have coal as the main source of electricity.

Conversely, four of the 10 states with the lowest CO₂ emissions per capita rely more heavily on renewables, especially hydropower.

Two of the largest consumers, California and Texas, have natural gas as their main source of electricity, but also maintain a significant share of renewable sources, with 34% and 44%, respectively.

Although coal accounted for 59% of CO₂ emissions from the energy sector, it represented only 23% of the electricity generated in the United States. Natural gas accounted for 37% of electricity generation in 2021.

The Transition to Low-Emission Sources

The U.S. has set a goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.

Transitioning to low-emission energy sources like hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and solar is essential for meeting U.S. climate goals.

In addition, clean energy stands out as the most significant job creator in America’s energy sector, with over 3 million Americans employed in clean energy jobs during 2021.

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How Carbon Credits Can Help Close the Climate Funding Gap

To keep a 1.5℃ world within reach, global emissions need to fall by as much as 45% by 2030, and carbon credits could help close the gap.

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Teaser image, featuring a bubble chart of assorted trillion-dollar values, for an infographic showing how carbon credits can help close the climate funding gap.

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The following content is sponsored by Carbon Streaming

How Carbon Credits Can Help Close the Climate Funding Gap

Governments around the world have committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement, but their climate pledges are insufficient. To keep a 1.5℃ world within reach, global emissions need to fall by as much as 45% by 2030.

Bold and immediate action is essential, but so are resources that will make it happen. 

In this graphic, we have partnered with Carbon Streaming to look at the role that the voluntary carbon market and carbon credits can play in closing that gap.

More Funds are Needed for Climate Finance

According to data from the Climate Policy Initiative, climate finance, which includes funds for both adaptation and mitigation, needs to increase at least five-fold, from $1.3T in 2021/2022, to an average $8.6T annually until 2030, and then to just over $10T in the two decades leading up to 2050. 

That adds up to a very large number, but consider that in 2022, $7.0T went to fossil fuel subsidies, which almost covers the annual estimated outlay. And the world has shown that when pressed, governments can come up with the money, if the global pandemic is any indication. 

Mobilizing Carbon Finance to the Developing World

But the same cannot be said of the developing world, where debt, inequality, and poverty reduce the ability of governments to act. And this is where carbon credits can play an important role. According to analyses from Ecosystem Marketplace, carbon credits help move capital from developed countries, to where funds are needed in the developing world. 

For example, in 2019, 69.2% of the carbon credits by volume in the voluntary carbon market were purchased by buyers in Europe, and nearly a third from North America. Compare that to over 90% of the volume of carbon credits sold in the voluntary carbon market in 2022 came from projects that were located outside of those two regions.  

Carbon Credits Can Complement Decarbonization Efforts

Carbon credits can also complement decarbonization efforts in the corporate world, where more and more companies have been signing up to reduce emissions. According to the 2022 monitoring report from the Science Based Targets initiative, 4,230 companies around the world had approved targets and commitments, which represented an 88% increase from the prior year. However, as of year end 2022, combined scope 1 and 2 emissions covered by science-based targets totaled approximately 2 GtCO2e, which represents just a fraction of global emissions. 

The fine print is that this is just scope 1 and 2 emissions, and doesn’t include scope 3 emissions, which can account for more than 70% of a company’s total emissions. And as these emissions come under greater and greater scrutiny the closer we get to 2030 and beyond, the voluntary carbon credit market could expand exponentially to help meet the need to compensate for these emissions.

Potential Carbon Credit Market Size in 2030

OK, but how big? In 2022, the voluntary carbon credit market was around $2B, but some analysts predict that it could grow to between $5–250 billion by 2030. 

FirmLow EstimateHigh Estimate
Bain & Company$15B$30B
BarclaysN/A$250B
Citigroup$5B$50B
McKinsey & Company$5B$50B
Morgan StanleyN/A$100B
Shell / Boston Consulting Group$10B$40B

Morgan Stanley and Barclays were the most bullish on the size of the voluntary carbon credit market in 2030, but the latter firm was even more optimistic about 2050, and predicted that the voluntary carbon credit market could grow to a colossal $1.5 trillion

Carbon Streaming is Focused on Carbon Credit Integrity

Ultimately, carbon credits could have an important role to play in marshaling the resources needed to keep the world on track to net zero by 2050, and avoiding the worst consequences of a warming world. 

Carbon Streaming uses streaming transactions, a proven and flexible funding model, to scale high-integrity carbon credit projects to advance global climate action and UN Sustainable Development Goals.  

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Learn more at www.carbonstreaming.com.

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