The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon release the Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. power sector, the country’s single-largest source of emissions. State-level actions to boost efficiency and ramp up clean energy will play a central role at reining in power sector emissions and helping the United States meet its climate target to reduce emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Using data from WRI’s CAIT Climate Data Explorer, the interactive graph below allows you to explore which states account for the most emissions in the United States, and from what sectors those emissions originate.
This breakdown of U.S. emissions tells a number of stories:
A handful of states contribute nearly half of U.S. emissions.
The top 10 emitting states account for 48.8 percent of emissions, while the lowest 10 contribute just 3 percent.
Per capita emissions show a different picture.
The graph below highlights how state emissions look when you split them up by person. The top states are very different. In fact, only one of the top 10 emitters (Louisiana) is among the 10 states with the highest per capita emissions.
Electric power is a major source of emissions, but its contribution to total emissions varies significantly from state-to-state.
Other sources such as transportation, industry, agriculture and waste also play important roles. For instance in California, transportation is the largest source of emissions. Explore these differences further in our 7 Charts Explain Changing U.S. Power Sector Emissions.
Reducing Power Sector Emissions Can Generate Economic Benefits
WRI’s study, Seeing Is Believing, shows how American consumers and businesses have a long track record of benefiting from government standards and technology improvements that increase efficiencies and rein in carbon pollution. For example, state efficiency standards enacted in 24 states are saving customers $2-5 dollars for every $1 invested. Federal standards that will make vehicles twice as efficient a decade from now will save consumers money and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Further strengthening clean power and energy efficiency could lead to even greater savings for states. With the United States on the cusp of finalizing the Clean Power Plan, state and federal policy makers should take a closer look at what actions they can take over time to rein in emissions from all sectors while generating health, economic and quality-of-life benefits.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 8/3/15: When this post was published, it incorrectly stated that Ohio was the only state in the top 10 emitters that was also part of the 10 states with the highest per capita emissions. It is actually Louisiana that holds this title.
- LEARN MORE: To see how global emissions breakdown by country, see WRI’s Global Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters, powered by CAIT Climate Data Explorer. CAIT provides various ways to explore data for 186 countries and multiple sectors and gases, and spans 162 years. In addition to historical emissions, CAIT also offers a variety of tools to explore other dimensions of climate policy, including an INDC Tracker, Emissions Projections and Equity Explorer.