Plummeting use of coal for power generation as many of the nation's coal power plants either shuttered or were converted to natural gas contributed greatly to the historic drop in the first quarter tabulations by the Energy Information Administration, (EIA) - "the energy department's statistics arm."
"Energy-related carbon emissions fell 8 percent from the same period a year ago to 1.134 billion metric tons (1.25 billion tons), according to the latest monthly energy review by the Energy Information Administration
Emissions from coal use fell sharply by 18 percent to 387 million tonnes in the January-March 2012 period - the lowest-first quarter tally since 1983 and the lowest for any quarter since April-June 1986."
While the other two fossil fuels saw nothing like an 18% decrease, they did, nonetheless, contribute to the 8% total decline.
EIA largely attributes the total 8% decrease to three factors:
In his July 21 column, "There's Still Hope for the Planet", NYT Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt refers to the drop in carbon emissions resulting from the transition from coal to natural gas as a "success" that illustrates an 'alternative' route to climate stabilization.
"The successes make it possible at least to fathom a transition to clean energy that does not involve putting a price on carbon - either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program that requires licenses for emissions."
Contributor's note: EIA uses the term, "energy-related carbon dioxide emissions". It does not use the term 'carbon dioxide equivalents that I believe would take into account the methane leakage associated from natural gas production and consumption. I hope to add clarification.
Thanks to California League of Conservation Voters