EPA Draft Report Notes Rise in Greenhouse Gases

Overall, total U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions have risen by 16.3 percent from 1990 to 2005, while the U.S. gross domestic product has increased by 55 percent over the same period, according to a draft report EPA released on Feb. 20.

The report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005, states that greenhouse gas emissions rose from 2004 to 2005, increasing by 0.8 percent. The following factors were primary contributors to this increase: strong economic growth in 2005, leading to increased demand for electricity and an increase in the demand for electricity due to warmer summer conditions. These factors were moderated by decreasing demand for fuels due to warmer winter conditions and higher fuel prices.

According to the report, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities in the United States was carbon dioxide (CO2), representing approximately 83.9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The largest source of CO2, and of overall greenhouse gas emissions, was fossil fuel combustion. Methane emissions, which have steadily declined since 1990, resulted primarily from decomposition of wastes in landfills, natural gas systems and enteric fermentation associated with domestic livestock. Agricultural soil management and mobile source fossil fuel combustion were the major sources of nitrous oxide emissions.

The draft report will be open for public comment for 30 days after the Federal Register notice is published.

After responding to public comments, EPA will submit, through the U.S. Department of State, the final inventory report to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), fulfilling its annual requirement as a party to this international treaty on climate change. The UNFCCC treaty, ratified by the United States in 1992, sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a widely anticipated report concluding that changes in the atmosphere, the oceans and glaciers and ice caps show unequivocally that the world is warming.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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