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Just as we did last year at this time, we are pleased to bring you the results of the 17th annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And… drum roll please… we here at GREENberg bLAWg (along with pretty much everyone else that reported on the topic) correctly predicted that along with economic recovery (which we seem to be inching toward) would come an increase in overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the previously reported year – a 3.2% increase from 2009 to 2010, to be exact.

As we explained in last year’s post, this annual report grew out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Parties to the UNFCCC agreed to develop, update and publish national inventories of GHG emissions and removals by sinks. To ensure that the inventory is comparable to those of other parties to the UNFCCC, EPA used methodologies recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This consistency will allow the parties to the UNFCCC to compare the relative contribution of individual sources, cases and nations to climate change.

The primary reasons cited by EPA for the increase in emissions are, as alluded to above, “increasing energy demand associated with an expanding economy” and an increase in electricity demand due to air conditioning usage during the warmer-than-average summer of 2010 (can anyone say “global warming?”).

Overall emissions have increased by 10.5% from 1990 to 2010 with the total U.S. GHG emissions in 2010 being equivalent to approximately 6,822 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Indeed, the report indicates that the primary GHG emitted by human activities in the U.S. in 2010 was carbon dioxide (no shock there), representing approximately 83.6% of total GHG emissions.

The report also breaks down the annual GHG emissions by economic sector.  In 2010, electricity generation accounted for the greatest chunk of the emissions at 34%. In second place was the transportation activity sector, contributing 27% of the GHG emissions. Industrial emissions rounded out the top three sectors, with 20% of the GHG emissions in 2010.

The good news is that U.S. GHG emissions were partially offset by carbon sequestration in forests, trees in urban areas, agricultural soils and landfilled yard trimmings and food scraps.  In fact, these “sinks” offset the total emissions in 2010 by 15.8%.

When next April rolls around, we will bring you the results of the 18th annual report.

Categories: Climate Change