Economic Downturn Helps Climate—a Bit

In the department of silver linings in very gloomy clouds come news that carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants dropped 3% last year due to the recession.

It's certainly not the first time that economic changes have had big and perhaps unexpected effects on carbon emissions. Projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have proved far too optimistic when it comes to greenhouse gas pollution in the developing world. In that case, models predicted slower than actual economic growth in the developing world.

The new emissions data from the United States, culled from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are, by contrast, lower than expected. But it's not really good news for the climate because greenhouse gas emissions from power plants are up 4.5% since 1998.

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