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EPA: US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Continue to Increase

The EPA has made its draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2003 available for public comment. The full draft is available here. The final version will be out later this spring.

Overall, net emissions of all greenhouse gases in the US (accounting for offsets for carbon sinks) rose by 0.7% between 2002 and 2003, from 6,029.5 Teragrams equivalent (Tg) to 6,070.6 Tg. (One teragram equals one million metric tons.)

From 1990 to 2003, net US GHG emissions have increased by a total of 1,024.5 Tg, or 20%. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the US would have been committing to a reduction of 7% from its 1990 levels.

Put another way, there is now a 29.3% overage—1,377.7 Tg—between the original US Kyoto target and actual net emissions in 2003.

CO2emissions—representing 85% of total (not net) GHG emissions—climbed 0.8% in 2003 from 5,796.8 Tg the year before to 5,841.5 Tg.

The combustion of fossil fuel for transportation represents 32% of that CO2 total, or 1,767.2 Tg in 2003.

The chart below, left plots CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion for the five years from 1997-2003 by sector. The chart below, right plots the percentage change over those five years.

Epa_ghg_20051 Epa_ghg_20052

Transportation is the largest sector in terms of emissions, but not the fastest growing.

Although overall net GHG emissions have increased more than 20% during the last 15 years, the economy as represented by the GDP grew 46%. The good news is that the economy appears increasingly less emissions-intense. The bad news is that despite the increased efficiency, we are still increasing our emissions even on a net basis year-to-year.


Mikhail Capone

Idea of the day: You can't have a system that is based on growth as a solution to all problems on a planet that isn't growing. Intrinsically not sustainable.

John Norris

Mikhail, I think sustainable growth is possible if we live on income and not on capital. We need to remake the way we make things and use only current solar income for energy (solar, wind, tidal). This would need a 4x or 10x improvement in transport/housing consumption of energy (see the book Natural Capital and Cradle To Cradle).

-- John

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