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U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Show Long-Term Reductions

The 2020 edition of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) comprehensive annual report on nationwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, released on April 13, shows that since 2005, national greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 10 percent, and power sector emissions have fallen by 27 percent, even as the economy grew by 25 percent.

“This report highlights declining emissions trends since 2005, showing that the U.S. is reducing GHG emissions while still being able to grow a robust economy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While there was a small rise in emissions due to weather and increased energy demand from the prior year in this report, based on preliminary data, we expect next year’s report to show that the long-term downward trend will continue.”

The United States is a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From 2005 to 2018, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 12 percent.

In contrast, global energy-related emissions increased nearly 24 percent from 2005 to 2018.

Annual trends are responsive to weather variability and economic conditions. Year-over-year, national greenhouse gas emissions were 3 percent higher in 2018 than the prior year, due to multiple factors, including increased energy consumption from greater heating and cooling needs due to a colder winter and hotter summer in 2018 compared to 2017. The Inventory results are comparable with other EPA and Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) emission estimates for fossil fuel combustion and electric power sector. While the current Inventory does not include 2019, preliminary energy data available now for 2019 from EIA projects that fossil fuel-CO2 emissions decreased by approximately 3 percent from 2018 to 2019.

EPA’s annual report, the “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2018,” provides comprehensive look at U.S. emissions and removals by source, economic sector and GHG.

The gases covered by this inventory include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation and soils.

This annual report is prepared by EPA in collaboration with numerous experts from other federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Agriculture; state government authorities; research and academic institutions; and industry associations.

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