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When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has made progress, decreasing emissions 8.2% from 2010 to 2019.
Among other top emitters, Brazil made the most progress for that time period, with an emission decrease of 31.3%, but is now on the rise.
But China and India saw major increases, of 25.4% and 36.6% respectively.
In 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sparked a worldwide movement to meet carbon emissions targets when she protested outside the Swedish parliament holding a sign saying "School Strike for Climate."
That protest inspired students across the globe to hold similar demonstrations demanding action from their governments on climate change. The issue remains at the forefront, though measures to address climate change are stalled in Congress.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisconsin, took to the floor of Congress to stake out a view that he says is rarely heard – that the United States is already doing a better job than the rest of the world at addressing the issue.
In a Feb. 3, 2022 tweet that included a snippet of the floor speech, Grothman made this claim: "The US has made strides in reducing carbon emissions that other parts of the world have not. Meanwhile, @POTUS is trying to send taxpayer dollars to manufacturers overseas that do not abide by the same standards we do at home."
In an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, Grothman expanded on the comment.
"I feel that many young people are being misled into thinking our country is polluting more than it ever has," Grothman said. "In reality, air and water pollution have decreased significantly in the last 40 years. I also feel that given the growth of the Chinese and Indian economies, people in the U.S. have to be conscious that changes in our laws can inadvertently push jobs to these other countries who do not have the same environmental standards we do."
Both parts of Grothman’s claim caught our attention. We took a look at the overseas manufacturers claim and rated it Half True.
But what about the claim on carbon emissions and progress.
The claim is that the U.S. is ahead of "other parts of the world" in terms of the strides it has made. Admittedly, the "other parts of the world" is a bit vague, but we interpret it to mean the US is doing better than many other countries that – like it – are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
When asked for backup, Grothman staffers pointed to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report titled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2020."
The report said that CO2 – carbon monoxide – emissions from fossil fuel combustion fell by 8.4% in that 30-year period. Looking at just the 15-year period of 2005 to 2020, they fell 24.7%. (In the final year covered, from 2019 to 2020, the figure was 10.7%)
So, U.S. emissions have fallen, but Grothman stated that as a comparison to other parts of the world, so we need to look broader.
Researchers with the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm focused on global trends, have tracked that data back decades. Their data puts China as the world’s top emitter, followed by the United States. The data groups the European Union as one, in addition to listing its individual nations such as Germany.
According to the data provided, here are the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters for the years 2010 and 2019, with total net emissions in million metric tons of CO2e (bundles of greenhouse gases):
2010 2019 Percent change
China 11,235 14,093 +25.4%
U.S. 6,241 5,724 -8.2%
India 2,504 3,422 +36.6%
European Union 3,868 3,334 -13.8%
Brazil 2,124 1,458 -31.3%
Indonesia 1,113 1,765 +58.5%
Russia 1,335 1,619 +21.2%
Japan 1,232 1,142 -7.3%
Germany 923 771 -16.4%
Canada 665 707 +6.3%
So when compared to the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, the United States has made progress, decreasing emissions 8.2% from 2010 to 2019. China and India saw the biggest increases among those countries, 25.4% and 36.6%.
Of note: Brazil made the most progress for that time period among the top 5 emitters, with a decrease of 31.3%. However, by 2020-2021, as The New York Times reported Nov. 2, 2021, Brazil’s progress has stalled and the country is now seeing increasing emission levels, largely driven by a surge in deforestation.
Grothman said "The US has made strides in reducing carbon emissions that other parts of the world have not."
When compared to the world’s other top greenhouse gas emitters, the United States has made progress – its emissions falling 8.2% from 2010 to 2019. While the US is not tops in terms of decreases, Grothman’s claim was a relative one. And China and India are among countries that have seen increases, not decreases.
For a statement that is accurate with nothing significant missing, our rating is True.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, Twitter, Feb. 3, 2022
Email, Grothman staff, Feb. , 2022
Phone call, U.S. Rep. Grothman, Feb. 23, 2022
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2020"
Rhodium Group "Preliminary US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates for 2021," Jan. 10, 2022
The Associated Press "Deadly extreme weather year for US as carbon emissions soar," Jan. 10, 2022.
Carbon Brief "Analysis: China’s carbon emissions grow at fastest rate for more than a decade," May 20, 2021
National Law Review "Key Energy Provisions in Biden Administration $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act," Nov. 17, 2021
The New York Times, "Once a Climate Leader, Brazil Falls Short in Glasgow," Nov. 2, 2021
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