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U.S. GHG emissions to rise 20% by 2020

U.S. GHG emissions to rise 20% by 2020

U.S. GHG emissions to rise 20% by 2020
March 3, 2007

The United States expects to emit 19 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 2020 according to a report from the Associated Press.

The draft report, which is still in progress and is more than a year late, projects 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000, if the Bush Administration climate policy proceeds as planned.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality has been working on the draft report.

In 2004 83 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions consisted of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels including coal, petroleum, and natural gas, while 8.6 percent consisted of methane and 6.1 percent came from nitrous oxide, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. The transportation sector was the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions (32.6 percent of emissions), followed by industrial (28 percent), residential (20.9 percent), and commercial (17.5 percent).

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ppmv), 1958-2004, derived from in situ air samples collected at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

CO2 global emissions gap. Courtesy of ESSP

The United States is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, followed by China and Western Europe. Analysts believe China may overtake the U.S. in total emissions sometime between 2009 and 2013, but that its emissions per person are projected to be less than half the average in industrialized nations..

Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide, which now stand at the highest levels in at least 650,000 years, in the atmosphere are blamed for climbing global temperatures. Scientists have warned that continued increases in CO2 levels could have dramatic impacts on sea levels, ocean currents, weather patterns, and precipitation.

Last year environmental groups ranked the United States as one of the countries doing the least to fight global warming, though politicians are increasingly expressing concern over the issue. Even President Bush has now acknowledged the threat of climate change, calling it a “serious challenge” in his January 23, 2007 State of the Union Address. The speech marked the first time he had spoke in such terms about global warming.

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