Less Renewables Means More Emissions in U.S.

The lower use of renewable energy in the United States last year contributed to an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide in that country.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-11-22 [SolarAccess.com] Emissions of CO2 from the U.S. electric power sector were 642 megatonnes last year, 4.7 percent higher than 1999, according to the Energy Information Administration. That increase is double the average increase of last decade, of 2.4 percent per year. “Contributing to the relatively large increase in 2000 was a 4.2 percent increase in fossil fuel use for electricity generation, as well as an 11 percent reduction in electricity generation from renewable fuels, including a 14 percent drop in hydroelectric generation,” explains ‘Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2000,’ prepared by EIA to comply with the Energy Policy Act. Total emissions of CO2 in the U.S. increased by 3.1 percent last year, rising from 1,536 million metric tons of carbon equivalent in 1999 to 1,583 MMTCe in 2000. Carbon dioxide accounts for 80 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The growth in CO2 emissions was one percentage point below the 4.1 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product. Energy-related CO2 emissions, which account for 98 percent of all CO2 emissions, were 1,547 MMTCe, while CO2 emissions from other sources were 36 MMTCe. The growth is the second highest rate for the past decade, surpassed only in 1996 by a 3.4 percent increase, and is well above the average growth rate of 1.6 percent for the 1990-2000 period. The high growth in CO2 emissions is attributed to a return to more normal weather, decreased hydroelectric generation that was replaced by fossil-fuel power generation, and strong economic growth in the U.S. Total greenhouse gas emissions rose by 2.5 percent last year, from 1,860 megatonnes in 1999 to 1,906 MTe. That growth was well above the average of 1.3 percent from 1990 to 2000, as well as the 1999 growth rate of 1.3 percent. Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year consisted of 1,583 MMTCe of carbon dioxide (83 percent of total emissions), 177 MMTCe of methane (9 percent of total emissions), 99 MMTCe of nitrous oxide (5 percent of total emissions), and 47 MMTCe of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorcarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) (2 percent of total emissions). Carbon emissions related to transportation account for one third of total CO2 emissions, and increased by 3.1 percent last year. Emissions in the residential sector increased by 4.9 percent while the commercial sector rose by 5.8 percent. Despite rapid growth of the economy, energy-related industrial CO2 emissions remained flat. EIA is an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Energy that is responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating energy information.

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