Indiana, one of the 10 states that emit the most carbon in the United States

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In case you haven’t heard it, the earth is doomed. Aside from the apocalyptic declaration, hundreds of top scientists around the world released a report last month on the danger man-made climate change poses to the world.

The United Nations report called it a “red code for humanity”.

And the cause, according to the report, is pretty clear: Carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change, along with other greenhouse gases. To turn the tide for the future, scientists have stressed the need to reduce and ultimately eliminate these emissions.

But where do these shows come from? That’s exactly what Greg from Indianapolis wants to know. For this part of the Scrub Hub, we’ll be looking at the share of US carbon emissions coming from Indiana.

To answer these questions, we looked at some federal data and spoke with experts about how Indiana gas compares to other states. Hint, we broadcast a lot.

The short answer: Indiana, one of the biggest emitters

There are a variety of sectors that emit climate responsible gases, including transport, industry and agriculture. One of the main contributors is the energy sector, which often supplies electricity to others.

The United States lags far behind China on emissions. In the United States, only 10 states account for half – 51% – of the country’s carbon dioxide that is emitted by energy and electricity.

Indiana is one of them.

It’s no surprise that states like California and Texas emit more than Indiana. They are huge. But Hoosier State emitted nearly 190 million metric tonnes of energy-related carbon dioxide in 2018, the most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration. It is the eighth plus in the country.

Exfoliation center: Which are the causes of air pollution in Indianapolis?

However, when you factor in population, the list of states that make up the top 10 per capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, according to the EIA, is different. States like California and Texas disappear while Alaska, Wyoming and Montana appear. Although they have relatively low overall emissions, their small populations mean that the number per person is higher.

There are only two states on both lists for high overall emissions as well as per capita: Louisiana and, yes, Indiana.

“Indiana isn’t the most populous state, but because our electricity mix is ​​so hungry on fossil fuels, let alone our manufacturing and transportation, we are on two bad lists at the same time,” he said. said Gabe Filippelli, executive director of Indiana University. Institute for Environmental Resilience.

“A lot of this is under our own control,” he added, “and it’s a double whammy.”

The long answer: Indiana burns a lot of fossil fuels

As Filippelli suggested, his colleague David Konisky said it’s clear why Indiana is up – or down, depending on how you look at it – when it comes to shows.

“It’s no mystery why Indiana isn’t keeping pace with many states across the country,” said Konisky, a professor in the IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs who focuses on environmental policies.

“It all depends on the policy and whether we have not demanded in the utility sector that companies produce more electricity from renewable energy,” he said. “We are still much more dependent on coal here than in other parts of the country.”

He’s not wrong. In 2019 and 2020, more coal was consumed in Indiana than in all but two of the U.S. states, according to EIA data.

Of that coal, the vast majority – over three-quarters – goes to Indiana’s electric power sector. And coal powered 53% of Indiana’s net electricity generation in 2020, according to the EIA.

And when it’s not coal, it’s usually natural gas. Wind and solar accounted for less than 10% of Indiana’s electricity production last year.

“Our power generation profile still leans heavily on fossil fuels and that alone, compared to other states that do not rely heavily on fossil fuels, will give us a low rating from the start,” said Filippelli. More fossil fuels means more carbon.

American Electric Power, which owns the coal-fired plant in Rockport, is said to be among the utilities expected to limit its carbon emissions.

One way to change that, he said, is to change and update state policies.

Konisky agreed, adding that many other major states across the country – such as Illinois, New York, and California – are doing just that. These states have a better picture of these measures because they have been much more serious in the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Even more, about two-thirds of states have renewable energy portfolio standards, which require that a certain amount of a state’s energy come from renewables. And these have been helpful, Konisky said.

“Indiana could implement something like that and apply it,” he said. “It would force the hand of public services to make decisions in that direction.”

Indiana is currently discussing and deciding its energy policy for the future. Several heads of state have said they believe a comprehensive approach would be the right solution, which includes renewables but also keeps some fossil fuels in the mix.

Indiana’s energy future: Report praises renewables but does not rule out fossil fuels

One of Indiana’s utilities has announced plans to phase out all of its coal-fired power plants by the end of the decade and to turn heavily to renewables. Others, on the other hand, do not plan to retire their coal-fired power plants for more than 15 years, or offer to replace them with natural gas.

Indianapolis Power & Light Co. announced in August that its Harding Street coal-fired power plant will be converted to natural gas, halving the carbon emissions of the city's largest industrial polluter.

“There is not much pressure from the state to move away from fossil fuels,” Konisky said. “This movement is happening in Indiana, but not at the same rate as in other states.”

Better understanding U.S. and state carbon emissions is critical in light of the recent UN climate report, Konisky said: It indicates the degree of urgency needed to reduce emissions not only from the energy, but from all sectors of the economy.

This is a huge problem that the whole world will have to face.

“From an American perspective, this will require everyone to take action from California to Indiana and everyone in between,” Konisky said. “But it will be very difficult for the United States to achieve the cuts it needs if states like Indiana don’t do their fair share.”

There is a lot more to learn about shows in Indiana. Do you have more questions? Ask us! Fill out the Google form below to submit a question to the Scrub Hub.

Can’t see the form? Click here.

Call IndyStar reporter Sarah Bowman at 317-444-6129 or email [email protected] Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @IndyStarSarah. Connect with IndyStar environmental journalists: Join The Scrub on Facebook.

IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible by the generous support of the non-profit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.



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