U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again

Source: JOHN M. BRODER, New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

After dropping for two years during the recession, emissions of the gases blamed for global warming rose in 2010 as the economy heated up, the Environmental Protection Agency reports.

Output of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gasses were up 3.2 percent from 2009 as the nation climbed slowly out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the E.P.A. said.

“The increase from 2009 to 2010 was primarily due to an increase in economic output resulting in an increase in energy consumption across all sectors, and much warmer summer conditions resulting in an increase in electricity demand for air conditioning that was generated primarily by combusting coal and natural gas,” the agency reported in its annual inventory of greenhouse gases.

The report, produced for domestic policymakers and for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, covers emissions of the six main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

It said that emissions of those gases dropped by about 8 percent from 2007 to 2009 after 15 years of fairly steady increases. Total United States emission rose 10.5 percent from 1990 to 2010.

President Obama has promised the United Nations that domestic greenhouse gas emissions will fall “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 through a combination of government policy steps, energy innovations and the deployment of low-carbon production techniques. Emissions in 2010 were 5 percent below those of 2005, indicating that the goal could be met with aggressive efforts by government and industry.