Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Energy Up 3.9 Percent in 2010, Reflecting Modest Economic Rebound, EIA Says

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. carbon dioxide emissions related to energy consumption rose 3.9 percent in 2010, primarily due to a modest economic rebound that boosted demand for coal and other energy sources, the Energy Information Administration announced Aug. 18.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions totaled 5.64 million metric tons in 2010, according to EIA's Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2010.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions constitute more than 80 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The 3.9 percent increase last year was the “largest percentage increase in U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since 1988” and also the largest in absolute terms, EIA said in a news release.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined in 2008 and 2009 as the economy slumped but increased as U.S. gross domestic product grew 3 percent in 2010, EIA said.

Consumption of coal, which had fallen 12 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year, rose by 6 percent in 2010, EIA said.

Total Emissions Below 2005 Levels.

While they are on the upswing, total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are still 6 percent below 2005 levels.

Between 1990 and 2007, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions climbed 20 percent, but they are now only about 12 percent above 1990 levels, even accounting for the 2010 increase, EIA said. That is a relatively modest increase from 1990 levels, given that U.S. gross domestic product increased by 63 percent in that period, EIA said.

The 3.9 percent increase in energy-related emissions in 2010 was due to four factors, EIA said: slight population growth, increased energy demand by energy-intensive manufacturing, a slight increase in the carbon intensity of the energy supply due to rising demand for coal, and a hot 2010 summer that led to increased demand for air conditioning in the residential sector.

The 3.9 percent increase reported by EIA is on par with an earlier agency projection published in October 2010. (See related story; 199 WCCR, 10/13/10.)

By Dean Scott