What states have the highest emissions?

U.S. emissions by state and industry
© WRI

This interactive chart breaks down U.S. emissions by state and industry.

Yesterday, President Obama released the revised version of the clean power plan, which will reduce power plant emissions. The new rules, which will be overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, should cut carbon pollution from the energy sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels over the next 15 years. An initial outline of the plan was put forward for public comment last year, and the revised version actually makes deeper emissions cuts than originally proposed.

But between now and the beginning of the compliance period, which starts in 2022, states must come up with plans to meet the new standards. (The proposed rules also have some court challenges to overcome.)

So what do state-by-state emissions look like? The World Resources Insitute (WRI) has built a cool interactive infographic that lays out each state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and further breaks down emissions by sector. According to WRI, electric power is responsible for 30.8 percent of the U.S.’s total emissions.


As you can see, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, New York and Michigan contribute nearly half of all of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions—48.8 percent.

However, there’s very little overlap between states with the highest per capita emissions and the states with the highest total emissions, shown in the chart below.

All of the data come from WRI's CAIT Climate Data Explorer, an interactive tool that provides public access to extensive climate-related data. WRI also created a similar interactive graphic that looks at global emissions.

The new carbon cuts will not only benefit Americans by reducing pollution, but they are also a big step towards showing the U.S.’s good will leading up to the United Nations Paris climate talks later this year. The United States is a top global emitter, so it’s going to take a lot of commitment to prove to the world that a global climate agreement can be a success—and convince other nations that they should be on board.

It remains to be seen what will happen in Paris, and it’s difficult to know if the country has done enough. But the first ever limits on carbon from power plants in the United States is undoubtedly an important step. Hopefully states will embrace their role in making this effort to fight climate change a success.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes | Global Warming Science | United States

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