Home / Reports / 2021 State of the Union / Environment & Energy

Environment & Energy

2020 was the second-warmest year on record.

In 2020, the average global temperature was 0.98 °C (1.76 °F) above the 20th century average. It was also 0.02 °C (0.04 °F) below 2016, the warmest year on record.

Environment & Energy

Last year, there were 22 natural disasters that cost over $1 billion each, six more than any year recorded.

The 2010s averaged twelve such disasters per year and the 2000s averaged six such disasters per year. ​

Environment & Energy

2020 was the second-worst year for wildfires on recent record, with over 10 million acres burned.

Wildfires burned an average of 7 million acres per year in the 2010s, more than twice the annual average in the 1990s. Final data on 2020 wildfires will be released in March 2021.

Environment & Energy

US energy production fell by 5% in 2020.

Coal production fell by 24%, whereas solar and wind energy grew 22% and 14%, respectively. Overall, fossil fuel production was up 32% in 2020 compared to 1980, largely due to a 74% increase in natural gas production. Nuclear energy production increased 201% since 1980 and renewable production increased 116%. Combined, renewable and nuclear energy comprised 21% of energy production in 2020. ​

Environment & Energy

Energy consumption per person fell 7.6% in 2020, the greatest decrease in recorded data.

Energy consumption related to transportation fell 15%, whereas consumption related to the commercial sector fell 7%.

Environment & Energy

Fossil fuels account for 79% of US energy consumption. The share of energy consumption from nuclear and renewable sources has doubled since 1980 to 21% in 2020.

Coal provides a decreasing share of US energy. Natural gas, which produces half as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal, is a growing fossil fuel energy source.

Environment & Energy

In 2019, the US became a net exporter of energy for the first time since 1952.

Imported energy fell 42% from the high in 2006, while exports increased 396% over the same period.

Environment & Energy

The US emits fewer greenhouse gases per person than in 1990, but still emits 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per person.

Carbon dioxide is the largest source of US greenhouse gas, comprising 80% of 2019 emissions, followed by methane at 10%. In 2018, the US made up 15% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and emitted more metric tons of carbon dioxide (5.3 billion metric tons) than any country other than China (10.8 billion metric tons).

Continue exploring the State of the Union (2021)

Explore more of USAFacts