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EIA: US CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels Declined by 1.3% in 2006

CO2 Emissions through 2006 by end-use sector. Click to enlarge.

US carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels decreased by 1.3% in 2006, from 5,955 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2005 to 5,877 MMTCO2 in 2006, according to preliminary estimates released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about one third of total carbon dioxide emissions, decreased slightly (by 0.1%) in 2006. Increases in CO2 emissions from gasoline (+0.1 %) and diesel fuel (+1.8 %) were offset by declines in other petroleum fuels. Between 1990 and 2006, transportation-related CO2 emissions grew 25.4% (1.4 % per year).

Annual percent change in CO2 emissions through 2006. Click to enlarge.

The US economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 3.3% and energy demand fell by 0.9% indicating that energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) fell by 4.2%. Carbon dioxide intensity (CO2 emission per unit of GDP) fell by 4.5%— the largest decline in intensity since 1990 and the fourth largest since 1949.

Factors that drove emissions lower include weather conditions that reduced the demand for heating and cooling services; higher energy prices for natural gas, motor gasoline, and electricity, that reduced energy demand; and the use of a less carbon-intensive fuel mix (more natural gas and non-carbon fuels) in the generation of electricity.

Through 2006, total US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have grown by 17.9% since 1990. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for more than 80% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

At the energy-sector level, other preliminary data indicate that:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from the residential and commercial sectors decreased by 3.7% and 1.0 percent respectively in 2006, as heating degree-days declined by 7.4%, while at the same time cooling degree-days decreased by almost 1%.

  • Industrial emissions fell by 1.2% in 2006. Since 2004 emissions attributable to the industrial sector have fallen by almost 4% despite growth in industrial output.

  • From 1990 to 2006, the carbon dioxide intensity of the economy fell by 26.5% or 1.9% per year. By 2005 (the latest year of data for all greenhouse gases), carbon dioxide intensity had fallen by 23.1% and emissions of total greenhouse gases per dollar of GDP had fallen by 24.7%.

    EIA will continue to refine its estimates of 2006 carbon dioxide emissions as more complete energy data become available. A full inventory of 2006 emissions of all greenhouse gases to be issued in November 2007 will present revised energy data and provide a further analysis of trends.




    I can see reduced demand because of heating, but not cooling.


    This is generally very good news, without driving the economy into a recession we cave reduced CO2 production and increased GDP per unit of CO2 substantially.

    The real question is what caused this, is it higher energy costs, GW awareness, or efficiency improvements?

    The key area for potential gain is transportation, I have to ask why industry can improve fuel economy by 4% but the auto industry cant.

    The key now is to quickly analyze this and use the output to actually drive in the most appropriate direction. The federal government has a significant role in the future of energy consumption, will it step up to the plate?


    Sounds like great news to me. Kudos to GCC for reporting it.


    'higher energy prices for natural gas, motor gasoline, and electricity, that reduced energy demand"

    I read that the U.S. has used more gasoline in 2006, even though prices have risen. So much for the supply and demand function.


    Industry has financial incentive to reduce energy use, and they look objectively for alternatives. Individual drivers have fewer choices. Fuel costs still represent a pretty small portion of a driver's budget and the capital cost of changing is substantial for the individual. Besides, with gas as low as $2 a gallon recently, and the Bush Administration talking down conservation, drivers are probably a little confused. That is changing rapidly -- both in technological alternatives, and public sentiment. I expect we will see reductions in the transportation sector soon, but not dramatic reductions.


    There was an article that stated that people making below $35k a year are feeling the pinch from higher gasoline prices, while those making more than $75k felt it was no problem.

    While this should come as no surprise, the guy they showed making over $75k that owned two suburbans was using twice as much gasoline as he needed to. Just because you make enough money, that does not entitle you to be wasteful. We all suffer for some people's greed and selfishness.

    Stan Peterson

    While all the left and their economies have talked a good show, they have not actually done much to decrease anything. The USA didn't talk about it; meanwhile the US has accomplished a great deal. Its Kyoto accomplishments dwarf the talk but little or no action.

    In many cases in spite of the efforts of the loudest critics and so-called environmentally concerned. When will the environmental movement endorse a clean Nuke? When will they allow windmills in their own backyards?

    Industrial GHGs emissions in the USA, are actually down over 1990, the Kyoto target has been met. As far as I know the only country to have achieved that. There may be a few collapsed economies such as Red Bloc that have equaled that but they are basket cases. They might have met the targets with economies half the size. Mission accomplished!

    Here on GCC we all know that there are spectacular declines in Transportation fossil fuel consumption in the offing, as HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs are adopted and move into the auto fleet in large numbers over the next decade.

    In Electrical Generation technology, great progress is being made. Nuke designs are being standardized and a building boom appears in the offing. CGCC coal plants are much cleaner, can incorporate sequestration, (if needed), and offer thermal efficiency improvements of several percent which is enormous where a improvement of a mere 0.5% is unheard of. Meanwhile, in an unheralded accomplishemnt, ITER cancellation suffered under the Democrats, to reinvigoration of international cooperation and world funding paid for, by all the major developed and even undeveloped world. Its being built.

    In the slightly longer term clean, inexhaustible, Fusion Energy is now assured, to replace the use of fossil fuels. Some people worry if fossil fuels will damage the biosphere, others question future fossil fuel availability, altogether.

    Both can now be seen to be swept into the long historical list of Malthusians who were simply dead wrong. Great News.

    Paul Dietz

    The key area for potential gain is transportation,

    No, the cost per ton of avoided CO2 emission is rather high in transportation, particularly if you require the transporation service being consumed to not be too substantially altered (such as replacing cars with mass transit). It's much cheaper in electrical power generation.

    The low hanging fruit is to stop burning coal to make electricity. That Texas utility that, upon being taken private, canceled plans for new coal fired powerplants (and instead focusing on nukes and wind) was highly significant.

    Joff Pentz

    The fact that the quantity demanded for gasoline has not changed, despite a price increase, is not a repudiation of "supply and demand" - it merely means that the equilibrium price has not been reached yet. In the short run, the price will adjust until it attains a long run equilibrium.


    The biggest decrease, Industrial, is likely to be more from off-shoring of manufacturing as opposed to improvements in efficiency. We are becoming more "white-collar" as can be evidenced by the increase in commercial energy use above and beyond energy efficiency increases.

    This leads me to believe that we are not producing more products with less CO2 but the CO2 per GDP is going down from less manufacturing on our soil. I bet that at a minimum, there are countries whom we import from with industrial CO2 increases that outweigh our decrease.


    By the time the equilibrium price is reached, the country will be broke and OPEC will own it. Like I said, so much for that function.

    Joff Pentz

    That is not possible for a simple reason - long run equilibrium is determined by the consumers willingness to spend at a price level that the supplier demands. Long before people are "broke", the marginal utility they recieve by purchasing gasoline will be diminished to the point that they will not purchase it. As the quantity demanded decreases (worldwide, in the case of fuel), the price will adjust to a lower point to reflect that reality. Supply and demand balance each other out. If you had said that some people would not be able to afford any gas ("broke"), you would surely be correct, but the majority would have to measure the utility they recieve from the purchase of fuel, and would purchase accordingly. The fact that people are buying fewer SUVs is proof that supply and demand works, though possibly not in the manner you want it to.
    OPEC will not "own" the country - they may own capital, and they may invest, but the country is not owned in any sense of the word. I would agree that they have a strangle hold on our energy, and that needs to be fixed, but we are not in danger of going broke. Remember, OPEC is an organization of business people. They may have different motives and goals than we do, but in the end, they exist to make money, are subject the same laws of economics that everyone else is, and they will price fuel to reflect that.


    Below is a report Feb 2007 by Volker at State, data from UN-FCCC. I wonder if a trend in comparison to 2006 can be made. Tried searching for 2005 data. Could not find it, but found it interesting that America was leading the EU in efficiency for most recent comparisons from 2000-04. I don't know if this trend is still holding up between EU-US.

    "According to data from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from 2000-2004--the most recent period for which we have good, comparative data--U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 percent. This is an increase, but a very modest increase. The EU-25, on the other hand, increased collective emissions by 2.1 percent(EU-15).

    "But given the way this issue gets talked about publicly in Europe, I would venture to say that few people in Europe know that from 2000 to 2004, EU-15 emissions grew at nearly double the U.S. rate, and that Europe, at least during this period, has been moving away from-not towards-its Kyoto target of an 8 percent cut."

    "Fine particle pollution is killing close to 300,000 Europeans per year. In the United States, largely because of fuel standards already in place, the number is about 30,000."

    UN-FCCC GHG inventory data....

    China is due to pass America in greenhouse emissions by 2009 according to trends. I've not time to track down all data in the State report, but I'm curious if China is installing any clean coal technology at all.

    Nick G

    Joff, if they own our t-bills, our major corporations, our loans and our real estate, and we send our federal interest, our corporate profits, and our mortage & rent payments to do they not own the country?


    Joff, give it a rest. This is a green car page that deals with cars and the environment. If you want to discuss politics or economics, there are probably blogs for that elsewhere.

    Joff Pentz

    Nick G:
    The use of T-bills is primarily focused on the Fed's monetary policy - simply put, we have nothing to fear from foreign T-bill investment, because by dumping the T-bills, they forfeit the value of the money they have invested. A greater problem is the low individual savings rate or our living on credit.

    I apologize if my explanations make you uncomfortable. I should point out, however, that I didn't bring up economoics - you did. I merely pointed out the incorrect assumptions you were making.



    How is it that you get to make economic pronouncements, such as repealing the laws of supply and demand, but Joff isn't supposed to "discuss politics or economics?"

    Paul Dietz

    I can see reduced demand because of heating, but not cooling.

    Where do you think the electricity that drives air conditioners (or the heat that drives absorption chillers) comes from?

    Nick G

    Joff, I'm not worried about foreigners dumping T-bills, I'm worried about them keeping them, and accruing more and more of our interest payments. It seems very reminiscent of the 19th century Chinese selling things to the British for gold, and refusing to buy anything.

    "A greater problem is the low individual savings rate or our living on credit."

    No question. "We have seen the enemy, and they is us."

    OTOH, part of the reason for our living on credit is our habit of transferring $300B/yr to other countries for oil. The best solution is to kick the habit.

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