According to an analysis released this week by U.S. Department of Energy research arm the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the transportation sector was among the key sectors that contributed to lower energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012.
The EIA annually studies CO2 emissions from areas such as commercial/industrial activity, power generation and other sectors of the economy. According to the most recent analysis, only the residential sector registered a larger decline in energy consumption than the transportation sector (513 trillion Btu, or 22% of the total energy decline in the U.S. in 2012).
This decrease in energy usage, however, did not reflect less activity from the transportation sector. Vehicle miles traveled in 2012 were flat compared to 2011, at 8,072 million miles per day in both years, which suggests that many more energy-efficient vehicles have been entering the market.
Indeed, an overall large drop in energy intensity (energy measured in Btu per dollar of gross domestic product) propelled the 2012 decline in energy-related CO2 emissions, despite economic growth. A key factor behind the decrease in energy intensity was that vehicle fleet efficiency improved 16% between 2007 and 2012.
The EIA notes that transportation-sector CO2 emissions remained well below the comparable level for 2007 in each month over the year, and only February – with an extra day – was above any of the five previous years, according to the EIA.
For more details about the EIA's study, click here.