Georgia Emissions Declining, Georgia Tech-led Drawdown Georgia Research Team Shows
Overall greenhouse gas emissions in Georgia fell by 5% between 2017 and 2021, mostly due to the increased use of natural gas and solar for electricity generation, according to the research team behind the Drawdown Georgia climate initiative. Emissions from agriculture and the average individual carbon footprint also shrank.
The decline in emissions comes against a 10% expansion in the state’s economy, showing the potential for reducing emissions while pursuing economic growth, according to the team.
However, the team’s data also show a stark increase in transportation-related emissions, which now exceed pre-pandemic levels and has become the state’s largest source of climate pollution, according to Marilyn Brown, Regents’ Professor and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy and the principal investigator on the Drawdown Georgia research team.
“While not all of the numbers are trending in the right direction, these data clearly show significant improvements in many sectors of our economy and also highlight where we have the greatest opportunities, namely transportation,” Brown said.
The report shows that while emissions from the electricity sector declined more than 15% between 2017 and 2021, transportation sources including cars and trucks put out 4% more climate-warming emissions in 2021 than five years earlier. Emissions from diesel vehicles spiked 16.1%, likely due to increased demand for delivery services driven by online shopping.
Emissions from Georgia’s agricultural and food sector fell by 7.1% during the study period while the average individual carbon footprint of Georgians declined from 22,092 pounds to 20,253 pounds.
“Based on the collaborations we’re a part of, we’re confident this is only the beginning of Georgia’s carbon reduction trend,” John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, said in a news release on the findings.
The foundation is a primary funder of Drawdown Georgia.
Brown leads the research team, which spans several Georgia colleges and universities. She is an internationally known climate policy researcher who has dedicated most of her career to helping solve the climate crisis.
The analysis is based on data from the first-of-its-kind Drawdown Georgia Emissions Tracker, which aggregates information from federal Energy Department, Transportation Department, and Environmental Protection Agency reports. The tracker was produced by a team of scientists led by William Drummond in the School of City and Regional Planning.
For a more detailed analysis of the findings, visit the Drawdown Georgia blog.