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EIA: US Energy-Related CO2 Increases 0.1% in 2005; Transportation CO2 Increases 0.2%

Transportation is the leading source for energy-related CO2 emissions.

US energy-related emissions of CO2 rose 0.1% from 2004 to 2005, increasing from 5,903 million metric tons (MMTCO2) to 5,909 MMTCO2 in 2005, according to an early estimate from the US Energy Information Administration.

Emissions from petroleum accounted for 43.75% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2005. Although total emissions from petroleum fell 0.1%, (while emissions from coal increased by 1.4%) emissions from transportation edged up by 0.2% in 2005.

Average fleet fuel economy, passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Source: EIA

Declines in emissions from gasoline and jet fuel were offset by increases in distillate and residual fuel emissions.

In 1999, transportation-related CO2 emissions overtook industrial emissions and remain the largest source of energy-related CO2. Between 1990 and 2005, transportation CO2 emissions grew 23.4% (1.4% per year) and accounted for 32.8% of all energy-related CO2 emissions in 2005 (1,937 MMTCO2).

Separately, Environmental Defense released a new report—Global Warming on the Road—that concludes that US cars and light trucks are responsible for 45% of the CO2 emitted by automobiles around the world, even though America’s vehicles represent just 30% of the nearly 700 million cars in use worldwide.

The US share of CO2 emissions is disproportionately higher because American vehicles are driven more each year and on average burn more fuel than cars in other countries.

Automakers vs. power companies. Click to enlarge.

The cars and light trucks from each of the Big Three automakers—GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler—emit more carbon dioxide than the nation’s largest electric utility, American Electric Power (AEP), with its nearly 60 large coal-fired power plants and 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity, according to the report.

The report details, by automaker and vehicle type, the greenhouse gas contributions from the auto sector.

Surprisingly, given the popularity of SUVs, small cars (compacts and subcompacts) still accounted for the greatest portion of carbon emitted as of 2004 (25%)—a testament to how long today’s vehicles remain on the road. SUVs—with a 21% carbon share in the entire fleet and a 34% carbon share among new vehicles only—are close to moving into first place.

The report examines the three factors behind greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles: amount of driving, fuel economy, and the carbon content of motor fuel.

Reducing global warming on the road is a shared responsibility. By underscoring the magnitude of emissions from America’s automobiles, this report shows that all actors—automakers, fuel providers, consumers, and various levels of government—can help solve the problem by addressing those aspects of CO2 emissions they can control.

—John DeCicco, author of the report and senior fellow at Environmental Defense




I have not seen compiled stats for 2005 yet but total highway mileage has been increasing by 1.0 to 2.5% per year for the last 4 years. If this happened again and the transportation related CO2 increase is only 0.2% that is not bad for a start.

Safety and OBD mandates seemed to have an impact in fuel economy from the sudden drop in passenger vehicle fuel economy during the early 90s (when airbags became standard, OBD-I started to restrict emissions more closely, and ABS was starting to gain popularity along with increasing the weight & structurally rigidity of vehicles).


Seems that the fatalities data around the same period show a sudden 10% drop for highway fatalities (from ~45,000 in 89 to ~40,000 in 90 even with all other trends (increasing highway miles etc) following their standard curves. Not sure what the seatbelt enforcement laws and ticketing efforts were at the time as that could also have an impact on fatality numbers).


Well it helps that alot of risk taking thrill seeking young men are in iraq here its alot safer then here... Someone did a study that of course got lost and burried that stated a young man was safer in iraq then on the road here.


I agree with Patrick. I'm sure vehicle miles traveled continued to increase at its usual rate (~2% per year) and given the fact that, as the article discusses, transportation-related emissions grew 1.4% per year, on average, between 1990 and 2005, a slight increase of only 0.2% in transportation-related emissions is actually a pretty good improvement over the trend. Of course, I'd like to see a decline in emissions - indeed we mus begin a rapid decrease in total CO2 emissions in order to stabalize atmospheric CO2 levels - a departure from the 1.4% increase per year trend for transportation-related emissions is at least a start.

allen zheng

We could see another drop in car fatalities due to the widespread introduction side curtain airbags (this also provides a revenue boost to airbag manufacturers).
___Car pooling and better efficiency out of US intermodal system may do something to the usage of the transport sector.
_Better and cheaper insulation, rooftop/facade electric/thermal solar, geothermal cooling/heating, and better use/design of blinds/ eaves will cut down on commercial/residental use.
_As for the industrial sector, increased use/capture of waste heat with productivity/efficiency gains would be smaller, but no less significant.
_The electrical energy producers can push their plants from ~38% industry wide to ~60% efficiency with existing technology (combined cycle gas turbine/steam) that will come down in price in the next 10 years. Cogeneration of hydrogen (via high temperture hydrolysis), heat, and steam otherwise dumped would also cut fossil fuel usage. _If a paper/wood/fiber product plant was willing to be a neighbor to a nuke plant, with lots of heat being thrown off no matter what, it could use the waste heat too. The hot water/steam would be pumped to the production facility via a heat exchanger, with the liquid not radioactive. Thus one or two stages from the reactor, with multiple valves and multiple opportunities to cut off the pllants from each other if something goes wrong. This, of course, would be for events that are contained inside the Nuke plant; a full fledged meltdown would be.....more problematic, to say the least.

Joe Deely

Making Progress

I think this is good news... 3.5% increase in GDP for the year and 0.1 % increase in CO2 emissions. Also, total energy consumption for US was actually down for the year.

Even better, the first quarter of this year saw a 5.6% increase in GDP... and according to EIA a 3% drop in energy consumption!

"In the first quarter of 2006, the United States produced 1 percent less energy than in the first quarter of 2005; total net imports of energy were down 1 percent; and total energy consumption was down 3 percent."

for report see -

There was also a good rise in renewable energy production as well as nuclear production. So, unless we have a really hot summer/fall I think that CO2 will decline this year.


I think a key piece of inforamtion that American society can take form this news is that, contrary to popular belief, reduction in CO2 WILL NOT have any signifcant impact on economic growth. This report is critical to putting the "nail in the coffin" of those who claim that reducing our CO2 levels, or even joining Kyoto will have such a deleterious effect on out economy we just can't consider it. Furthermore, this data seems to show that fairly small factors in our economy can have a significant impact in CO2 pollution. Imagine what the effect of a $0.50 per gallon sales tax on gasoline may have on C02 levels. I'm not saying that this is the best way to go, but it would have a significant impact on total nationwide CO2 generation.

Everyone who argues that we need to reduce our GHG emmisions should memorize this report when arguing with someone who beleives the opposite.


Paul Dietz

We could see another drop in car fatalities due to the widespread introduction side curtain airbags (this also provides a revenue boost to airbag manufacturers).

Also, electronic stability control systems have recently been confirmed to have a huge effect on the rate of serious accidents (something like 30% reduction). I have no doubt this technology will become required on all vehicles before very long.

Harvey D.

I fully agree with Cosmo. The idea that reducing CO2/GHG would be a disaster for the economy is strictly a GWB and Oil Lobbies propaganda and is far from the truth.

Many countries have reduced GHG while maintaining a vigorous economy.

Using more locally built hybrids, PHEVs and EVs fed with cleaner alternative fuels, Sun and Wind electrical energy would be a major boost for the local economy while reducing GHG, Oil imports and trade deficits.


It would be a disaster for a very simple reason. The new jobs would be more likely to accour in china and the firing would be likely to happen in america.

Yes there will be a ton of people making money in the global warming indistries... but that doesnt mean they will be WORKING in america even if american companies fund it. After all china is a huge source of cheap brainy people.

I personaly think alot of people are lieing to themsevles seeing the future with rose colored glasses.


I think a key piece of inforamtion that American society can take form this news is that, contrary to popular belief, reduction in CO2 WILL NOT have any signifcant impact on economic growth.

A key part of this is that this is happening without being a Kyoto signatory, and purely because of market forces with rising fuel prices. No additional taxes or mandated emissions restrictions needed.


Energy efficiency, especially in transportation sector, is of uppermost importance regardless of climate change, fossil fuel depletion, or any other fictional danger.


We wont stop climate change we wont reverse it. We will slow and eventualy stop global warming.

Because of the way climate works we were always going to be far too late to stop a nasty climate change AND in fact it was garenateed a NATURAL climate change was going to happen anyway.

And we are far too puny to force the climate back.. Once it completes its change the natural forces keeping the change in place will be many orders of magnetude more powerful then man will ever be in our lifetime.


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