Date of Publication


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Earth Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Jessup, Assistant Professor, Meteorology


The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from U.S. coal consumption for energy on total global anthropogenic CO2 emissions from coal from 1980 to 2012. This study investigated whether the U.S. to world proportion of CO2 emissions from coal have been greater than expected when compared to global CO2 emissions on a per person basis over this time period. Data was obtained from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (U.S. E.I.A.), U.S. Census Bureau, IHS Global Insight, Inc., and Population Reference Bureau for U.S. and global coal consumption, CO2 emissions from coal, and population. This data was used to create percentages for each year of the study, which were then graphed and analyzed. The results of the study found that the U.S. has emitted more CO2 than expected for a country of its population and that U.S. CO2 emissions from coal have been decreasing with no influence on the recent increasing trend of global CO2 emissions. The driving force behind the recent increases was China. A secondary study involved analyzing the negative correlation between CO2 emissions from U.S. coal and natural gas consumption from 1980 to 2012. Data from the U.S. E.I.A. for coal and natural gas consumption was tested using graphical analysis and Pearson’s correlation coefficient tests. The results were that there was no significant negative correlation of CO2 emissions between coal and natural gas consumption. The findings of the study confirmed the first research question of the U.S. having a disproportionate influence on global CO2 emissions from coal, while rejecting the secondary question of the negative relationship between CO2 emissions from coal and natural gas consumption in the U.S.