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Final EPA report shows total US GHG emissions up 3.2% in 2010, total CO2 up 3.5%, total transportation CO2 up 1%

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the 17th annual US greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. The final report shows overall emissions in 2010 increased by 3.2% from the previous year. EPA attributes the trend to an increase in energy consumption across all economic sectors, due to increasing energy demand associated with an expanding economy, and increased demand for electricity for air conditioning due to warmer summer weather during 2010.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2010 were equivalent to 6,822 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The report indicates that overall emissions have grown by more than 10% from 1990 to 2010.

As the largest source of US greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 from fossil fuel combustion has accounted for approximately 78% of global warming potential (GWP)-weighted emissions since 1990, growing slowly from 77% of total GWP-weighted emissions in 1990 to 79% in 2010. Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion increased at an average annual rate of 0.7% from 1990 to 2010. The fundamental factors influencing this trend include (1) a generally growing domestic economy over the last 21 years; and (2) an overall growth in emissions from electricity generation and transportation activities, according to the report.

Between 1990 and 2010, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased from 4,738.3 Tg CO2 Eq. to 5,387.8 Tg CO2 Eq.—a 13.7% total increase over the twenty-one-year period. From 2009 to 2010, these emissions increased by 181.6 Tg CO2 Eq. (3.5%).


From 1990 to 2010, transportation emissions rose by 18% due, in large part, to increased demand for travel and the stagnation of fuel efficiency across the US vehicle fleet. The number of vehicle miles traveled by light-duty motor vehicles (passenger cars and light-duty trucks) increased 34% from 1990 to 2010, as a result of a confluence of factors including population growth, economic growth, urban sprawl, and low fuel prices over much of this period.

When electricity-related emissions are distributed to economic end-use sectors, transportation activities accounted for 27% of US GHG emissions in 2010. The largest sources of transportation greenhouse gases in 2010 were passenger cars (43%), light duty trucks (19%), freight trucks (22%) and commercial aircraft (6%). These figures include direct emissions from fossil fuel combustion, as well as HFC emissions from mobile air conditioners and refrigerated transport allocated to these vehicle types.

From 2008 to 2009, CO2 emissions from the transportation end-use sector declined 4%, due largely to decreased economic activity in 2009 and an associated decline in the demand for transportation. From 2009 to 2010, CO2 emissions from the transportation end-use sector increased by 1% as economic activity rebounded slightly in 2010.

Transportation activities (excluding international bunker fuels) accounted for 32% of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2010. Virtually all of the energy consumed in this end-use sector came from petroleum products. Nearly 65% of the emissions resulted from gasoline consumption for personal vehicle use. The remaining emissions came from other transportation activities, including the combustion of diesel fuel in heavy-duty vehicles and jet fuel in aircraft.

The Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010 is the latest annual report that the United States has submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. EPA prepares the annual report in collaboration with experts from multiple federal agencies and after gathering comments from stakeholders across the country.

The inventory tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2010. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation and soils.




EPA GHG emissions counter should come to Canada to learn how to turn an increase into a reduction. We reported a 0.5% reduction while everybody know that we had a similar +3.2% increase, similar if not more than USA.


Maybe people drove less cows farted less.


One overlooked reason for the higher per capita CO2 emission rate of Canadians is our overly restrictive vehicle import regulations. The Canadian government has a very narrow view of what a car ought to be. I'd love to build myself an electric car but I can't even import a kit car to start with unless it had already been assembled and on the road somewhere else for 15 years. Forget about building one from scratch.

If the government would only loosen up there would be all kinds of solutions coming into the country, and here's a few to consider; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CAnq5DyNG0


ai-vin ...you could always try a V-12, 6 mpg monster. You may get very quick approval, specially in you know where?


No thanks, that customized V6 Dodge Tradesman van I drove in the 80s was bad enough. I think it was the weight of the waterbed that really did my mpg in. ;^)


Cornering is difficult with water beds in the back :)


If I recall correctly, the beds came with a system of internal anti-slosh baffles. Either way, I got the most use out of it parked. :D

Stan Peterson

These figures are useless estimates, and don't square with reductions in the use of fossil fuels reported elsewhere on Green Car Congress.

When you report only what people filing on your bureaucratic forms report, you don't know what was consumed, nor do you know if the answer is merely that a higher percentage of human users reported.

I have yet to hear if the bureaucrats were any more successful in getting the mighty Oak and Pine or their saplings, to report GHG consumption/sequestration, nor whether the herds of wild dear, elk, and moose fully reported their flatulent GHG methane emissions.

The Science of actually measuring CO2 in the atmosphere, and unheard of conceptual idea, to a bureaucrat, rather than stotalingalling forms reported by some humans, still says the North American continent is a NET CARBON SINK, producing less GHGs than it emits.

Aside from the obvious axe to grind and larger budgets flowing from more reported, or "manufactured" GHGs reported emissions, all you can safely say is:

Garbage In = Garbage Out !!

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