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EIA: Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the US Down 2.2% in 2008; Transportation Sector Emissions Down 4.7%

Greenhouse gas emissions in the US economy, 2008. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

Total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 were 2.2% below the 2007 total, according to the just-released report by the US Energy Information Administration, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2008.

The decline in total emissions—from 7,209.8 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2007 to 7,052.6 MMTCO2e in 2008—was largely the result of a 177.8-MMTCO2e drop in carbon dioxide emissions. There were small percentage increases in emissions of other greenhouse gases, but their absolute contributions to the change in total emissions were relatively small, with the increase in emissions of those gases being more than offset by the drop in CO2 emissions:

  • 14.8 MMTCO2e growth for methane (CH4), or 2%. Methane emissions totaled 737.4 MMTCO2e in 2008. Most of the increase came from coal mining and from natural gas production and processing. Emissions from petroleum systems decreased. Emissions from stationary combustion—primarily from wood combustion for residential heating—increased.

  • 0.4 MMTCO2e growth for nitrous oxide (N2O), or 0.1%.

  • 5.3 MMTCO2e growth for the man-made gases with high global warming potentials (high-GWP gases). The increase resulted mainly from higher emissions levels for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, up by 5.0 MMTCO2e).

The decrease in US CO2 emissions in 2008 resulted primarily from three factors, according to the EIA report: higher energy prices— especially during the summer driving season—that led to a drop in petroleum consumption; economic contraction in three out of four quarters of the year that resulted in lower energy demand for the year as a whole in all sectors except the commercial sector; and lower demand for electricity along with lower carbon intensity of electricity supply.

Petroleum remained the largest fossil fuel source for energy-related CO2 emissions, contributing 42% of the total, followed by coal with a 37% contribution. Although coal produces more CO2 per unit of energy, petroleum consumption—in terms of British thermal units (Btu)—made up 44.6% of total fossil fuel energy consumption in 2008, as compared with coal’s 26.8%.

The transportation sector has led all US end-use sectors in emissions of carbon dioxide since 1999; however, with higher fuel prices and slower economic growth in 2008, emissions from the transportation sector fell by 4.7% from their 2007 level. Transportation sector carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 were 95.6 MMT lower than in 2007 but still 343.2 MMT higher than in 1990.




This could be the start of a new trend. The $4/gal fuel may have helped. The current year, with the lasting economy down turn, may be even better.

Next decade, 2010 onwards, will be interesting, specially in the road transportation sector. The arrival of more efficient ICE vehicles, HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs and improvement in the trucking industries should help to lower liquid fuel consumption.


I can't help but think that this article should be titled: US achieves lower emissions - by exporting the emissions to other countries

The US trade imbalance is growing; you're importing more cheap goods from China and they are increasing their emissions to make those. You've looked more to Canada to meet your oil needs and our emissions go up. Etc. You have only shifted your non-transportion emissions.


ai_vin - you are mostly correct. Mining and manufacturing is moving from the US - and we are growing domestic sustainable resources quickly. Combined with electrification of transport and coal to NG conversions of power plants - the U.S will have an admirable sustainable profile.

While China's CO2 emissions will increase dramatically - that's not what'll kill 'em. Particulates are killing 'em now and will continue. China hosts 10 of the 13 world's most polluted cities.

Your country Canada, if they had any vision would be rapidly building their NG capacity to replace shale oil. IF Canada grew CHP manufacturing and NG as their future export industry - they could start building a National Trust like Norway with the billions they'd make off NG sales to the US. Nice way to pay for that expensive social healthcare program.


ai_win & Reel$$, you are both correct. Huge Banks/Insurances + Wall Street deals do not create much GHG emissions.

China, the current world's factory, is and will produce more and more GHG, at least until another large country plays the same role.

Globalization has completely changed national GHG meaningfulness.

The only way to make GHG more meaningful would be with global accounting. All GHG created to produce imported goods and services should be counted and added to the importing country and substracted from the exporting country.

If we do that, China's GHG would go down by over 50% and USA's would go up by about the same percentage. Last year's published figures would certainly not be the same. The downward trend may be an upward trend.

Nobody will voluntarily change accounting methods that would make them look worse, even if it would be more truthful and honest to do so.


ai_vin has the cause and effect down right, you lose your manufacturing, you lose your pollution. I read that pollution from China takes about 2 weeks to get to California. Dilution is NOT the solution to pollution.



"The current year, with the lasting economy down turn, may be even better."

Yes you forgot to mention the 15 million unemployed US workers losing their homes and in many cases having to depend on soup kitchens to keep body and soul together.

But then it's all for a higher cause as the Communists used to say.


Indeed there are thousands of generous volunteers at soup kitchens and food banks across NA that do what communist central planning has failed at. They do so out of goodness - not government fiat.



The current financially made crisis may last longer and certainly come back if wild free market is allowed to trick people over and over again.

The creators of financial bubbles are still overly compensated for bubble building. They will do it again, even at a faster rate because they are very greedy and it is one quick way to amke more $$$. One crisis every 5 to 10 years is to be expected.

Can the government print or borrow enough money to cover those quick operators another time around? Each crisis will move $$$$B in the hands of a few profitgators and there will be less and less for others. That's how the perfect system will breakdown, if nothing is done to effectively correct it.


When you have a flawed system, continuing to use it without overhauling and improving it is irrational. Insanity was once defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Trickle down, grow out of the deficit con jobs have been proven faulty, if not down right fraudulent, so to continue on that path is just plain nuts to say the least.

Stan Peterson

Ken Lay and his Enron, were supporters of the Bush Administration. When wrong-doing was uncovered he and hs associates were indicted and prosecuted and sent to jail, despite their campaign contributions.

None guilty of the creating this financial collapse and Great Recession and all supporters of this administration have even been indicted. The wrong doers are no secret either. Franklin Reines of Fannie Mae, Jim "Tim" Johnson of Freddie Mac, and Jamie Gorelick of EF Hutton, have walked away with their millions of ill gotten gains.

Their campaign contributions have bought them safety and immunity. It appears that Senator Dodd may lose his seat, but Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosoi are in no trouble.

One thing to be said for thet Chicago machine pols. They protect their own.


"One crisis every 5 to 10 years is to be expected."

Harvey, how does creating a climate crisis differ from a economic crisis?? Climate is rife with schemes to make big bucks for the same banker bunch.

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