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Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States

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Title: Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States  
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Subject: Energy in the United States, Biofuel in the United States, Debate over China's economic responsibilities for climate change mitigation, Boulder Climate Action Plan, Energy policy of the Obama administration
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Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide versus Time
US greenhouse gas emissions by gas
US greenhouse gas emissions by source
US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were 12% below the peak levels of 2007.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by country
Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the U.S. and China in millions of tonnes (1990–2006)

The United States was the largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions until 2006 when China overtook it.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The United States' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 2012 projections for 2030 by the Department of Energy have dropped 28 percent from its 2007 projections regarding the U.S. energy industry, due to the recession and the hydraulic fracturing boom (natural gas) that has reduced the release of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere.[7]

While the Bush administration opted against Kyoto-type policies, the Obama administration and various state, local, and regional governments have attempted to adopt some Kyoto Protocol goals on a local basis. For example, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI),[8] is a state-level emissions capping and trading program, which was founded on January 18, 2007, by eight northeastern U.S. states.

The White House announced on 2009-11-25 that President Obama is offering a U.S. target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.[9]

The U.S. State Department offered a nation-level perspective in the Fourth US Climate Action Report (USCAR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including measures to address climate change. The report shows that the country is on track to achieve President Bush's goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity (the amount of GHG emissions per unit of gross domestic product) by 18 percent from 2002 to 2012. Over that same period, actual GHG emissions are projected to increase by 11 percent. The report estimates that in 2006, U.S. GHG emissions decreased 1.5 percent from 2005 to 7,075.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This represents an increase of 15.1 percent from the 1990 levels of 6,146.7 million tonnes (or 0.9 percent annual increase), and an increase of 1.4 percent from the 2000 levels of 6,978.4 million tonnes. By 2012 GHG emissions are projected to increase to more than 7,709 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which will be 26 percent above 1990 levels.


U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy use rose by 1.6% in 2007, according to preliminary estimates by the United States Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA). Electricity generation increased by 2.5%, and carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector increased even more, at 3%, indicating that U.S. utilities shifted towards energy sources that emitted more carbon. That shift was partially caused by a 40 billion kilowatt-hour decrease in hydropower production causing a greater reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants fueled with natural gas increased by 10.5%, while coal-burning power plants increased their emissions by 1.8%.[10]

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that the "U.S. and global annual temperatures are now approximately 1.0°F warmer than at the start of the 20th century, and the rate of warming has accelerated over the past 30 years, increasing globally since the mid-1970's at a rate approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend. The past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the contiguous U.S., a streak which is unprecedented in the historical record."[11]

Reduction target

The White House announced on 25 November 2009 that President Barack Obama is offering a U.S. target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The proposed target agrees with the limit set by climate legislation that has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but the U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill that cuts GHG emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. The White House noted that the final U.S. emissions target will ultimately fall in line with the climate legislation, once that legislation passes both houses of Congress and is approved by the President. In light of the president's goal for an 83% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, the pending legislation also includes a reduction in GHG emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2025 and to 42% below 2005 levels by 2030.[9]

Strategy and measures to address climate change

The U.S. strategy integrates actions to address climate change (including actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions) into a broader agenda that promotes energy security, pollution reduction, and sustainable economic development.

Near-term measures

Energy: residential and commercial sectors

Energy: industrial sector

Energy: supply


As of 2011, 71% of petroleum consumed in the USA was used for transportation.[28]

Programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector:

  • CAFE:
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program requires automobile manufacturers to meet average fuel economy standards for the light-duty vehicle fleet sold in the United States . The passenger car standard has been set by statute at 11.7 kilometers per liter (kpl or km/l) (27.5 miles per gallon (mpg)), but can be amended through rulemaking. In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raised the standard for minivans, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and other light trucks from 8.8 kpl (20.7 mpg) to 8.9 kpl (21.0 mpg) for 2005, 9.2 kpl (21.6 mpg) for 2006, and 9.4 kpl (22.2 mpg) for 2007. The action more than doubles the increase in the standard that occurred between 1986 and 2001, a period of more than 15 years. It is predicted that this activity might save approximately 412 trillion Btus (3.6 billion US gallons (14,000,000 m3)) of gasoline over the life of model year 2005–07 light-truck fleets and is projected to result in emission reductions of 42 Tg of CO 2 Eq. in 2012 for all light trucks after model year 2005.
In March 2006, NHTSA issued a new rule for light trucks covering model years 2008–11. The new rule raises required light-truck fuel economy to 24 mpg by model year 2011 and will save nearly 1,259 trillion Btus (11 billion US gallons (42,000,000 m3)) of gasoline (73 Tg of CO 2 Eq.) over the life of the affected vehicles. The new rule includes an innovative reform that varies fuel economy standards according to the size of the vehicle. The regulation has also been extended for the first time to large passenger vans and SUVs.
Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, United States Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for promulgating regulations to ensure that gasoline sold in the United States contains a specific volume of renewable fuel. This national Renewable Fuel Standard will increase the volume of renewable fuel that is blended into gasoline, starting with calendar year 2006. The standard is intended to double the amount of renewable fuel usage by 2012. As of 2011, 4% of the energy consumed by transportation was supplied by renewable fuels.[29]
The program[30] works jointly with DOE's hydrogen, fuel cell, and infrastructure R&D efforts and the efforts to develop improved technology for hybrid electric vehicle, which include the hybrid electric components (such as batteries and electric motors).
The U.S. government uses six "criteria pollutants" as indicators of air quality: ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides, particulate matter, and lead and does not include carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Aviation yields GHG emissions that have the potential to influence global climate. In the United States, aviation makes up about 3 percent of the national GHG inventory and about 12 percent of transportation emissions. Currently, measuring and tracking fuel efficiency from aircraft operations provide the data for assessing the improvements in aircraft and engine technology, operational procedures, and the airspace transportation system that reduce aviation's contribution to CO 2 emissions. DOT has a goal to improve aviation fuel efficiency per revenue plane-mile by 1 percent per year through 2009. In the near term, new technologies to improve air traffic management will help reduce fuel burn and, thus, emissions. In the long term, new engines and aircraft will feature more efficient components and aircraft aerodynamics, enhanced engine cycles, and reduced weight, thereby improving fuel efficiency.

Industry: non-CO2 GHGs

  • Methane Programs[34]
  • High-GWP Programs :
The United States is one of the first nations to develop and implement a national strategy to control emissions of high-GWP gases. The strategy is a combination of industry partnerships and regulatory mechanisms to minimize atmospheric releases of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—which are potent GHGs that contribute to global warming—while ensuring a safe, rapid, and cost-effective transition away from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons, and other ozone-depleting substances across multiple industry sectors.



Waste management

Promulgated under the Clean Air Act in March 1996, the New Source Performance Standards and Emissions Guidelines ("Landfill Rule") require large landfills to capture and combust their landfill gas emissions. The implementation of the rule began at the state level in 1998. Recent data on the rule's impact indicate that increasing its stringency has significantly increased the number of landfills that must collect and combust their landfill gas. EPA estimates that methane reductions in 2002 were 9 Tg CO2 Eq., and reductions for 2012 may remain about the same.


Authorized under Section 1605(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, this voluntary program provides a means for utilities, industries, and other entities to establish a public record of their emissions and the results of voluntary measures to reduce, avoid, or sequester GHG emissions

Nonfederal policies and measures

State initiatives
Regional initiatives
NGA has announced plans to expand statewide regulations on GHG emissions and clean energy initiatives. In a news conference on September 12, Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas unveiled a task force they will lead along with six other governors to promote renewable energy, conservation, and a reduction in GHG emissions through statewide policies. The US Department of Energy will provide $610,000 in support for this initiative.
As chairman of NGA, Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) said that on energy issues, "We have a federal government that doesn't seem to want to move as fast or as bold as many would like." With states creating their own emissions standards, Pawlenty said, there will be a push for the federal government to come up with a nationwide energy policy to address global warming. If enough states act to reduce GHG emissions, it would "become a de facto national policy".[38]
Climate action plans
  • California: Issued April 2006.
  • Connecticut: Issued February 2005
  • Massachusetts: Issued May 2004
  • New Mexico : Issued December 2006
  • Oregon : Issued December 2004[39]
Lead by example programs
  • New Hampshire's Building Energy Conservation Initiative
  • New Jersey's Green Power Purchasing Program
  • Atlanta's Virginia Highland - 1st Carbon Neutral Zone in the United States[40][41]
Local initiatives
Private-sector and NGO initiatives

Long-term measures

  • Carbon Sequestration Regional Partnerships[42]
  • Nuclear:
    • Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Initiative
    • Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative
    • Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative
    • Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
  • Clean Automotive Technology
  • Hydrogen Technology[43]
  • and High-temperature superconductivity

International measures


The British climate envoy in the meeting of the world's top 16 polluters, John Ashton, said the United States seemed isolated on the issue of fighting climate change:[44]

Requirements to report greenhouse gas emissions

As a result of the USEPA's Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases rule, thousands of companies in the US, beginning January 1, 2010, are required to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions and begin reporting those emissions in 2011.[45] A detailed inventory of fossil fuel CO
emissions is provided by the Project Vulcan, produced by researchers at Purdue University.

See also


  1. ^ Raupach, M. R., G. Marland, P. Ciais, C. Le Quéré, J. G. Canadell, G. Klepper & C. B. Field. (2007). emissions"2"Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO.  
  2. ^ emissions; USA in second position"CO
    "China now no. 1 in .  
  3. ^ "China Overtakes U.S. as No. 1 Emitter of Carbon Dioxide".  
  4. ^ "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise in China".  
  5. ^ Emissions Growing Faster Than Anticipated"CO
    "China .  
  6. ^ Emissions Using Province Level Information"CO
    "Forecasting the Path of China’s . Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UCB. CUDARE Working Paper 97. 2008-03-14.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative". Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ EIA - Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U.S. 2006-Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  11. ^ The Global Warming Debate - The Facts
  12. ^ DOE: High Performance Buildings
  13. ^ Building Technologies Program: Building America
  14. ^
  15. ^ EERE: State Energy Program Home Page
  16. ^ Industrial Technologies Program BestPractices
  17. ^ Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program: Wind Energy Research
  18. ^
  19. ^ EERE: Geothermal Technologies Program Home Page
  20. ^ EERE: Biomass Program Home Page
  21. ^ OE: Distributed Energy Program Home Page
  22. ^ "Green Power Partnership". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "Combined Heat and Power Partnership". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Carbon Capture and Storage Research". U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Advanced Energy Systems Program". NETL website. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "Carbon Capture". NETL website. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  27. ^ "Carbon Storage Technology". NETL website. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  28. ^ US Energy Information Administration, Primary energy by source and sector, 2011, PDF.
  29. ^ US Energy Information Administration, Primary energy by source and sector, 2011, PDF.
  30. ^ EERE: Vehicle Technologies Program Home Page
  31. ^ EERE: Clean Cities Home Page
  32. ^ Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program - Environment - FHWA
  33. ^ EERE: Biomass Program Home Page
  34. ^ US EPA - Methane
  35. ^ "Powering the Plains: Energy Transition Roadmap". GPI website. Great Plains Institute. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  36. ^ "Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships". NETL website. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  37. ^ National Governors Association
  38. ^ ,
  39. ^ The Governor's Advisory Group on Global Warming (2004-12-17). "Climate Change in Oregon - Oregon Strategy".  
  40. ^ Jay, Kate (November 14, 2008). "First Carbon Neutral Zone Created in the United States".  
  41. ^ Auchmutey, Jim (January 26, 2009). "Trying on carbon-neutral trend". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  42. ^ "Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships". NETL website. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "Technologies for Hydrogen Production". Gasifipedia. National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  44. ^ "Bush climate plans spark debate". BBC News. 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  45. ^

External links

  • U.S. Emissions Data and total carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossil fuels data (Energy Information Administration).
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Economic analysis:
    • Economic and environmental effects of potential policies to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
    • The report’s findings were disputed by the World Resources Institute, which said the EPA analysis of federal bills “omits key assumptions.”
  • EmissionsCO
    New High-Res Map of U.S. Per-Capita .
  • Georgia Judge Cites Carbon Dioxide in Denying Coal Plant Permit.
  • Emissions by State and Industrial Sector for Fossil Fuel CombustionCO
    [32] 2005 Energy (EPA)
  • inventory for the United StatesCO
    Project Vulcan high resolution fossil fuel
  • EPA Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Power Plants: Many Questions, Some Answers Congressional Research Service
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