EPA’s greenhouse gas inventory released yesterday shows that the transportation and electricity sectors now supply about the same amount of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2016, the latest year for which data is available, fossil fuel-generated power and transportation each supplied about 34 percent of total U.S. CO2 emissions, according to the annual EPA report. Industry was a distant third at 15 percent.
Electricity has historically been the chief source of CO2 emissions, but shifts from coal to lower-carbon fuels, especially natural gas, have shrunk its share of the total carbon dioxide pie in recent years. Power generation is currently responsible for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions overall, due in large part to methane emissions from natural gas. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of overall greenhouse gases.
The United States released 6,511 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2016 when CO2, methane, nitrogen oxides and fluorinated gases are added together. That total is down 2.5 percent compared with 2015. It was also 12 percent below 2005 levels after accounting for reductions from carbon sinks. In Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2007, the Obama administration promised the world that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020—a goal it is considered likely to miss.
The State Department will submit the inventory to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the United States plans to remain a party to for the foreseeable future. But the body also requires the transmission of a biennial Climate Action Report detailing efforts to curb emissions. State missed a New Year’s Day deadline to supply that report, which would be the first since President Trump took office, and has yet to say when or if it will be completed.
The Center for Biological Diversity refiled a lawsuit in U.S. District Court this week demanding that the agency meet its obligation after receiving no answer to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The EPA inventory is comparatively uncontroversial, skirting policy issues in favor of emissions data. The exercise was completed last year under Trump, and a draft version of the latest tally was made public in February.
Dina Kruger, former director of EPA’s Climate Change Division, said in a recent interview that industries like the greenhouse gas inventory.
“That’s the way that they can basically tell people the level of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “The sectors like to see that their emissions are going down.”
Reporter Robin Bravender contributed.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.