- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The report, “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States: 2001,” is required by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and represents the latest emissions estimates for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by EIA, the independent statistical and analytical arm of the Department of Energy. The reduction in 2001 can be attributed to the combination of:
• Reduced overall economic growth in 2001 from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 0.3 percent;
• A 4.4-percent reduction in manufacturing output that lowered industrial emissions;
• Warmer winter weather that decreased the demand for heating fuels; and
• A drop in electricity demand and coal-fired power generation that reduced emissions from electricity generation.
“Since 1990, U.S. emissions have increased more slowly than the average annual growth in population (1.2 percent), primary energy consumption (1.2 percent), electric power generation (1.9 percent) or gross domestic product (2.9 percent),” the report states. Despite the good news, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2001 still were 11.9 percent higher than in 1990.
U.S. emissions trends are driven largely by trends in fossil energy consumption. In 2001, 82.1 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions consisted of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels, including coal, petroleum and natural gas, the report states. In recent years, national energy consumption, like emissions, has grown relatively slowly, with yearly deviations caused by weather-related phenomena, fluctuations in business cycles, changes in the fuel mix for electric power generation, and developments in domestic and international energy markets.
Other 2001 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions include: carbon dioxide from non-combustion sources (1.7 percent of U.S. emissions); methane (9.3 percent); nitrous oxide (5.2 percent); and other gases (1.7 percent). Methane and nitrous oxide emissions are caused by the biological decomposition of various waste streams and fertilizer, fugitive emissions from chemical processes, fossil fuel production and combustion, and many smaller sources.
The other gases include: hydrofluorocarbons, used primarily as refrigerants; perfluorocarbons, released as fugitive emissions from aluminum smelting and also used in semiconductor manufacturing; and sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6), used as an insulator in utility-scale electrical equipment. Estimates are based on activity data and applied emissions factors, not on measured or metered emissions monitoring. For the full EIA report, see http://www.eia.doe.gov/env/new.html.
In November 1998, the United States signed the Kyoto treaty, designed to reduce the loading of global warming pollutants by industrialized countries. President Bush withdrew the United States in 2001, stating that the treaty exempts 80 percent of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would harm the U.S. economy.
In its place, Bush a year ago announced two major proposals addressing air quality and global warming: the Clear Skies Initiative and Global Climate Change Initiative. Both plans have elicited heated reaction from stakeholder nations, including The European Union and Japan, which have adopted the Kyoto treaty and criticized the Bush administration for failing to do more to curtail U.S. emissions.
On Dec. 17, Canada became the latest country to announce ratification of the treaty. The Climate Change Plan for Canada proposes an additional national goal — for Canadians to become the world’s most efficient energy consumers and producers, as well as global leaders in the development of new clean technologies.