EPA reports 1.6% drop in US greenhouse gas emissions in 2011

15 April 2013 22:47  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 1.6% year on year in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday, citing cleaner electricity generation, fuel efficiency improvements in vehicles and weather changes.

In its annual inventory report, the federal regulatory agency said total GHG emissions in 2011 were equivalent to 6.7bn tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“The decrease from 2010 to 2011 was due to a decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels consumed to generate electricity due to a decrease in coal consumption, with increased natural gas consumption and a significant increase in hydropower used,” the EPA said.

“Additionally, relatively mild winter conditions, especially in the south Atlantic region of the United States where electricity is an important heating fuel, resulted in an overall decrease in electricity demand in most sectors,” it added.

The report addressed six main gases, which included carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

The EPA said electricity production accounted for 33% of GHG emissions in 2011, followed by transportation use at 28% of the overall total. Industry contributed to 20% of total emissions in 2011, while commercial and residential use made up 11%. Agriculture accounted for 8% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the US in 2011.

The agency noted it has taken steps to help reduce GHG emissions, including increasing energy efficiency through the Energy Star program and increasing fuel efficiency for cars.

In a sector breakdown, the EPA said energy-related activities were the primary sources for US anthropogenic, or human-caused, GHG emissions in 2011, accounting for 86% of the total. Fossil fuel combustion contributed to the majority of energy-related emissions in 2011 with over 5.7bn tonnes of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Meanwhile, GHG emissions from nonenergy industrial-related activities in 2011 were equivalent to 326.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide, while the agriculture sector generated emissions of 461.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.

“GHGs are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses; as well as other threats to the health and welfare of Americans,” the EPA said.

Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick

By: Tracy Dang
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