US greenhouse gas emissions fell 1.5% in ‘06

28 November 2007 19:04  [Source: ICIS news]

US cut greenhouse gases in 2006WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The US cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1.5% in 2006 compared with 2005, and those emissions as a percentage of gross domestic product fell even further by 4.2%, the US Energy Department said on Wednesday.


News of the decline in US atmospheric pollutants comes as Congress is considering mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions by US chemicals producers and other manufacturers.


The department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that the 2006 drop in emissions was due in large measure to last year’s mild winter and summer seasons and a related reduction in electricity demand for residential heating and cooling.


Total US GHG emissions were just over 7bn tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2006, the administration said, down 1.5% from the 2005 level.


In addition, US emissions of greenhouse gases per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) - a measure known as GHG intensity - fell more than 4% from 653 tonnes per $1m (€670,000) of GDP in 2005 to 625 tonnes in 2006.


Emissions of CO2 from energy consumption and industry, which had risen at an average annual rate of 1.2% annually from 1990 to 2005, fell by nearly 2% in 2006, EIA said.


“The decline in CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2006 can be attributed to a one-half percent decline in overall energy demand and a decrease in the carbon intensity of electricity generation,” the administration said.


“Favourable weather patterns, where both heating and cooling degree-days were lower in 2006 than 2005, and higher energy prices were the primary causes of lower total energy consumption,” the report said.


However, the emissions decline in 2006 also was due in part to trends in less carbon-intensive electricity fuels, including more nuclear power, increased wind energy and fuel-switching by utilities from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.


“A portion of last year’s emissions reduction does indicate some long-term trends in less carbon-intensive electricity generation,” said Glenn Sweetnam, an energy specialist at EIA.


“We do expect to see natural gas use [as an electricity fuel] continue to grow, and that would be part of a long-term trend in using a lower carbon-emitting fuel,” he said.


That trend is not good news for US chemicals manufacturers, however, who worry that increasing use of natgas for power generation will only add further supply and pricing pressures on natural gas - the industry’s principal feedstock.


Legislation now pending in Congress would impose mandatory reductions on industrial generation of greenhouse gases, a measure some legislators fear would devastate US industry and the broader economy.


($1 = €0.67)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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