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EPA Releases Draft 2007 Greenhouse Gas Inventory; Transportation Largest End-Use Sector

US end-use sector emissions of greenhouse gases. Click to enlarge.

The transportation sector in the US accounts for approximately 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion, and again represents the largest share of any end-use economic sector, according to a just-published draft of the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (End-use sectors are transportation, industrial, commercial and residential.)

In 2005, total US greenhouse gas emissions were 7,262.3 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalents. Overall, total US emissions have risen by 16.3% from 1990 to 2005, while the US gross domestic product has increased by 55% over the same period.

According to EPA’s allocations, transportation accounted for 1,899.5 Tg CO2 (in CO2 equivalents) in 2005 out of a total 5,752.8 Tg CO2 generated by fossil fuel combustion. Between 1990 and 2005, transportation CO2 emissions increased by 432.5 Tg CO2, representing approximately 41% of the growth in energy-related CO2 emissions from all sectors.

Within the transportation sector, CO2 emissions increased by 29% from 1990 to 2005, representing an average annual increase of 1.8%. Between 2004 and 2005 transportation CO2 emissions increased by 1.6%. Almost all of the energy consumed in the transportation sector was petroleum-based, including motor gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and residual oil.

Automobiles and light-duty trucks accounted for approximately 61% of transportation CO2 emissions in 2005, down slightly from 63% in 1990. From 1990 to 2005, CO2 emissions from automobiles and light-duty trucks increased roughly 25% (236.2 Tg CO2). Over this period, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by automobile and light-duty trucks increased by 39%, outweighing a small increase in overall fleet fuel economy that resulted from the retirement of older vehicles.

Carbon dioxide emissions from freight trucks increased by 69% (157.7 Tg) from 1990 to 2005, representing the largest emissions rate increase of any major transportation mode. Truck VMT increased by 51%.

While CO2 emissions from commercial aircraft grew by approximately 16% (21.8 Tg CO2) from 1990 to 2005, passenger miles traveled (PMT) increased by 69% over the same period, reflecting improvements in the fuel efficiency of planes and an increasing percentage of occupied seats per plane.

The EPA has made the draft of the Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990 - 2005 available for public comment.




Hey, industry is doing well! Oh wait, that is just an indicator of manufacturing being "offshored".

Stan Peterson

This EPA reports is actually a very good report on the success that America has had in really slowing the emissions of various gases into the atmosphere.

Those environmentalists that complain Americans consume and out sized proportion of the resources never mention that the USA produces an even much larger proportion of the planet's goods.

GDP up 55% for a GHG increase of only 19% is great news. Especially compared to the Kyoto hot air generators who talk a good show but don't actually back it up in any fashion. Most all those snooty EU snobs have much poorer records than the US in slowing the GHG growth and none has met the stated Kyoto target either, or even come as close, as only a 19% increase.

But they have implemented the increased taxes and governmental controls that the watermelon greens wanted. Predictably, to little or no success.

I was surprised to visit Europe this past year and the foul, sooty, smell from all the diesel vehicles was as noticeable as the bad air in many a third world undeveloped cesspool of a city. I don't recall the air being as bad five or ten years ago. It doesn't take a sophisticated sense of smell to notice that Europe's air is dirtier (and unhealthier), than it used to be.

With the coming auto electrification reducing petroleum consumption by 50 -70%, that we all here seek, we can anticipate beating the 1990 Kyoto targets without all the economic distortions or life style sacrifices, wished upon all but themselves, by the self-appointed socialist pseudo-green, nobles.

Stan Peterson

Looking at the chart of GHG gas emissions by sector it is also encouraging to note that US industry has lowerd its GG emsiisons to essentailly its 1990 levels, already.

While residential and commercial establsihements have expanded by a scant 400 Tg units, the coming electrification of the auto can be expected to reduce by 900 or 1000 Tg CO2 units.

The US would then be well below 1990 targets and might be in the realm of 1930 or 1940 emissions levels prior to any measured warming in spite of a doubled or trebled population.

It doesn't appear that the US would need to make ANY OTHER change than to PHEVify its auto fleet to eliminate all basis for warming concerns.


What happens if you adjust the 55% increase in GDP for inflation, and the fact that a smaller proportion of our overall GDP comes from direct manufacturing? Is the ratio of delta GDP to delta GHG emmissions even a good indicator of the efficiency of industry?

Rafael Seidl

Stan -

the Western EU-15 actually managed to reduce GHG emissions by 4.4% between 1990 and 2004, but they've been rising again since then thanks largely to increased economic growth. We're now almost back up to 1990 levels.

During these 16 years, in spite of massive additional burdens such as the re-unification of Germany, EU GDP has grown by about 1/3. This is less than US growth, mostly because much of Europe is hampered by more-or-less rigid labor markets plus barriers to doing cross-border business (laws, language, culture, ...)

Recently, the EU took in 12 additional members, of which 10 are former communist countries (excl. East Germany) and the other two tiny. Imagine the US committing to adopting Mexico wholesale with the intent of raising it's GDP per capita to US levels within a generation and then throw in the complication of a dozen new languages and national sensibilities.

So, if you're going to include data other than pure CO2 emissions in your assessment - which is ok - then you really should also consider the enormous value of stabilizing Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Remember that Greece, Spain and Portugal were all fascist dictatorships until well into the 1970s. They now have deep democratic roots, thanks in no small part to their membership in the EU and the substantial economic assistance that came with it. Current talks with Turkey are proceeding for essentially the same reason, in spite of the severe challenges the long road to membership entails for both sides.

In other words, comparing North America and the EU on a purely economic dimension is missing the point: Europe dug itself out of a very deep hole after WW II with generous loans from the US. It has since helped a number of additional nations adopt the values of the West in a way that military alliances alone never could.



Please note that the trend lines are moving up, not down. Furthermore, contribution of CO2 emissions from electricity production is distributed across the sectors shown. From the exec summary of the report:

"Electricity generators consumed 36 percent of U.S. energy from fossil fuels and emitted 41 percent of the CO2 from fossil fuel combustion in 2005. The type of fuel combusted by electricity generators has a significant effect on their emissions. For example, some electricity is generated with low CO2 emitting energy technologies, particularly non-fossil options such as nuclear, hydroelectric, or geothermal energy. However, electricity generators rely on coal for over half of their total energy requirements and accounted for 93 percent of all coal consumed for energy in the United States in 2005. Consequently, changes in electricity demand have a significant impact on coal consumption and associated CO2 emissions."

Coal is booming. Scores of coal-fired power plants are under construction or in the planning stages. This is not good news for global warming.

Bill Young


You have an interesting worldview.

The Europeans have signed Kyoto and are actively working towards its goals. The US, until the Democratic sweep and Bush's recent conversion, denied global warming.

The Europeans have not reached their commitments. The US has refused to be inconvienenced by making them.

The Europeans emit 8 tons CO2/person. The US emits 20 tons CO2/person.

Yes, their light vehicle diesels stink. Ours are non-existant.

Light vehicle electrification, if it occurs on a large scale, will significantly reduce CO2. On this, you are right.



The reason kyoto failed was the plan would never be agreed apon by the producer nations as is and would never be agreed apon by the other nations with any plan the producer nations would sign off on.

Oh and for all you blind as bat people who think the us should have jined it.. All that would have happened is far more us production cap would have moved to china and india at a gargantuan cost in co2 and materials. To be blunt if we had while the us would have been A BIT cleaner china would be belting out 2-3 times the gasses it is now and india likely the same jumo as well.

How much of kyoto was getting rid of dirt and how much of it was just sweeping it under the rug to some other country? Do you REALY think things worked out better?


I think megatonne (Mt) is better than teragram. Even megaton as per A-bomb tests since a long ton is within 1% of a tonne. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonne

Wintermane I agree there are too many giveaways and bogus offsets in the EU carbon trading scheme. Plus overgenerous free starting allowances. That doesn't mean it can't be fixed nor that the California scheme should make the same mistakes.


I read today on Bloomberg (whose site is poorly designed) that CO2 emissions credit prices on the ETS have dropped to .66 euros/tonne.

Kit P

Bill, a little history. The 70s were a shock for the US industry. Great improvements were made in energy efficiency and by 1990 the carbon intensity of your products was the best in the world.

Kyoto was designed to hurt the US economy not help AGW. The EU is not working to achieve Kyoto goal, they are talking about but going rapidly the opposite direction. President Clinton rejected Kyoto but at least DOE has a credible plan. Bush brilliantly built on that plan basing goals on carbon intensity not some arbitrary point in time.

If France wants to reject coal as resource, that is okay for them because they have none. France acts in the self interest of France. IMO, the US government should act in the self interest of the US. Both the US and France are going to build nuclear reactors in China. Huge reductions ghg that are way beyond Kyoto.

Anyhow, the global plan that the Bush administration has developed has more potential that what the EU is doing.


"Bush brilliantly built on that plan basing goals on carbon intensity not some arbitrary point in time"

I think more recent history shows that Bush is resisting even measuring carbon(CO2)as a GHG. How can this "brilliant" plan be based on carbon intensity?


The report simply demonstrates that all of the USA efforts to curtail CO2 emmissions are a joke. 41% of our emmissions come from electrical generation yet not one nuclear plant has been built. Emmissions from heavy trucks has increased 69% since 1990, demonstrating that without a fuel consumption tax to shift long hauls back to rail, our efforts will continue to be nothing but a diversion to justify the status quo. While the report above says fleet average economy has improved, that is simply a false statement. Fleet fuel economy has been decreasing over time since 1986, as vehicles have gotten bigger and heavier - read SUV's.


Key steps to the calculation
There are six key steps to estimate the annual greenhouse gas emissions associated with a passenger vehicle:

1.Determining the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced per gallon of
2.Estimating the fuel economy of passenger cars and light trucks (in miles per gallon [mpg])
3.Determining the number of miles driven
4.Determining the emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2(methane [CH4], nitrous oxide [N2O], and hydrofluorocarbons[HFCs])
5.Estimating the relative percentages of passenger cars and light trucks
6.Calculating the resulting annual greenhouse gas emissions

EPA Fact Sheet 420-F-05-004
February 2005

Again the scientists and bureaucrats at EPA are saying two different things. Who do you choose to believe? No need to worry, the Supreme Court, which has little to no scientific credibility, will decide if CO2 really is a GHG. There is a plan: it is status quo till crisis. What is abundantly clear that Bush's "voluntary" compliance is just a waiver. So when it's finally PROVEN that the sky is blue, water is wet, and human civilizations GHG emissions are harmful then we can worry about it..



One of the reasons why truck emissions are up so much is that the emissions from other industries have gone down, as they have been progressively moved offshore to China, India, and other nations that are not a party to Kyoto or any other agreement. This necessarily drives increases in HDV emissions because we still need goods, so we import them, which makes shipping distances longer.

As for freight rail, that industry is growing quickly these days. They don't have enough rolling stock to meet demand, so more trucks get used.

IMO, the only way we're going to get any meaningful, sharp reductions in CO2 emissions in transport is a replacement alternative fuel that's compatible with the present vehicle fleet. Namely, biobutanol for cars and biodiesel for trucks.


Energy consumption and CO2 emissions peaked in Europe in 1970, and then decreased significantly up to middle 1990. GHG reduction and Kyoto have nothing to do with it. Improved energy efficiency, stable population, moderate economic growth, outsourcing of energy intensive industries, switch from coal to nuclear and natural gas – this was main driving forces. In fact, all European big players – GB, France, Germany – have declining CO2 emission trend from 1990 to 1996-1998. At the moment of signing of Kyoto agreement in 1997 these countries already achieved Kyoto goals almost in full. Since then trend was reversed: their CO2 emission are rising, but of course at very moderate pace. Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Austria have increasing CO2 emission trend since 1990, and are currently significantly off Kyoto targets:


As agreement with no penalty for non-complying, and without any meaningful policy (like opposing nuclear electricity and EV development), this agreement is benefiting only governmental, EU, UN, and corporate bureaucracy, on the expense of regular folks.


Cervus, with long haul consumption increasing, the relative use of rail must be decreasing as a share of the whole. Our situation is worse, not better in the transportation area. The idea of transferring off of fossil fuel into biofuel will not work as long as fossil fuel is available, for we will burn it all, hence releasing all the carbon tied up in fossil fuel into the atmosphere, and suffering whatever consequence that entails. Rail can be powered electrically with existing technology, either using the third rail with the tracks isolated or overhead cables. But is there a program to electrify rail transport? Nope. Is there a program to build enough nuclear generators to shutdown all gas and coal electrical generation stations? Nope.
The fact is our current efforts have resulted in the increase in the release of fossil fuel products into the atomosphere. All the carefully crafted newspeak to cloak that truth will not diminish it. We are on the wrong track going in the wrong direct, pun intended.

James White

Stan Peterson's economic arguments for doing nothing to reduce global warming are ludicrous. How can driving around in gas hogs and exporting billions of our oil dollars to countries around the world that hate us be good for the U.S. economy? When did investing in cost-effective energy efficiency measures make bad business sense? Our economy had better be thriving. We're paying for this party by putting TRILLIONS of dollars on our children's credit card. If that's not enough, let's also pass on to them a fever hot planet.

Wintermane's argument for doing nothing is equally pathetic. "We can't do anything about it because China and India are doing it too." My kid's try to use the same flawed logic when they get caught doing something bad. "But all the other kids are doing it too", they'll say. To which all parents respond, "Would you jump off of a building just because someone else did?"

These guys are not "conservative" republicans, they are waste-a-crats.

Kit P.

Ed, measuring the carbon intensity of making electricity, steel, growing food, and driving to work to work is fairly simple. Rather than debate if man is causing global warming (it can be proven either way), or the merits of Kyoto; Bush is reducing ghg emissions based on what works.

The Clinton plan was primarily promoting windmills. The leader in this ategory is Texas. Who do think was governor of Texas when Clinton was president? Bush is focusing on 90% solutions rater than 10% solutions. For example, windmills and CCGTs are 90% solutions. Improving gas millage is a 0% solution (assuming consumers will accept it). However, this will not be enough. We have to get growing economies with huge coal resources like India and China to build more nukes and accept our cleaner methods of using coal.

Reducing ghg by maintaining the US standard of living and improving the standard of living for billions is brilliant. And it is working.


Pointing out that plan will fail simply because you cant get everyone to agree to it as written is not silly or childish its fact.

Its going to take a very different kind of plan to get china or india in on it anytime soon.

Its not a case of donothing its a case of do something ELSE. At least bush is trying to help china improve its energy intensity and create a tech t help china burn its coal without burning the world too. Did kyoto do that? Did kyoto do anything to help china out of this mess its in?

How much of what china is doing now is a direct result of european monufacturing moving to china? What about all the mess the biofuels fiasco made with rain forests being turning into palm oil factories for export to europe? Was that calulated into europes mighty wonderful co2 epeen?

I thought not.


The fact is our current efforts have resulted in the increase in the release of fossil fuel products into the atomosphere.

This is because there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a fact. It doesn't matter how much more efficient we get, because economic and population growth will still drive up absolute emissions because there are no economically viable alternatives.

This is the point I'm trying to make. Until those alternatives exist, Kyoto and other such efforts are doomed to failure. The EU might be able to restrain their own economies. But India and China will more than make up for what they do manage to cut.

Would this require a Manhattan Project-style alternative fuels R&D effort? Probably. But this seems like something the US and Europe can cooperate on. Sharing the costs, lowering the risks.

Kit P.

Cervus, there are many alternatives that work. In 2005, 36% of the reductions came from improvements in nuclear power and 25.8% in methane related improvements.

Carpooling is very viable, cost effective too. How is easy is turning off the hot water heater? IMO, 'Manhattan Project-style alternative fuels R&D' are the bastion of politicians who expect engineers to find technical solutions so hard political choices can be avoided.

Harvey D.

Selective de-industrialization + huge trade yearly deficits is a smart, current USA administration, way to look better.

How long can USA manage to export pollution creating production to other countries?

How many more $700+ billion yearly trade deficits can USA live with?

How many more billion gallons of food based ethanol can USA produce before it has to import food instead of oil?

Pollution produced per capita should include all the pollution created by the goods and services consumed per capita, including all the imported portions. This way, importing countries could not pass pollution to others. Walmart may not create much pollution in USA but manufacturing all the imported goods it sells does.



Conservation efforts, while laudable, are still just a band-aid. I'm sure those that can carpool, will. But it's not an option for everybody. Flextime schedules and suburb-to-suburb commuting complicate matters.

Ultimately, whether "hard political choices" have to be made or not, it's in the hands of engineers and businessman to design and invest in new technologies. The solution is therefore ultimately technical.


"man is causing global warming (it can be proven either way)"

well then Kit, PROVE it!

California is the leader in wind power and Texas was hardly in the game when Clinton was president. So promoting Bush as brilliant (in anything) is more than a stretch.

"Improving gas millage is a 0% solution (assuming consumers will accept it)."

well now this is utter rubbish, are you trolling? This blog is largely based on the fact that improving gas mileage is the BEST solution.

"Reducing ghg by maintaining the US standard of living and improving the standard of living for billions is brilliant. And it is working."

You should take your SUV over to Bill O'Reilly's reality your not gonna find much sympathy for such drivil here.

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