Total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased by 1.3 percent in 2002

June 27, 2003 — U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels increased by 1.3 percent in 2002, from 5,686 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2001 to 5,762 MMTCO2 in 2002, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The 2002 increase of 1.3 percent is close to the average growth in emissions from 1990 to 2002 of 1.2 percent. The increase in 2002 is in contrast to 2001, when emissions declined by 1.4 percent.

Total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions grew 16 percent over the 1990 to 2002 period. Carbon dioxide emissions account for over 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and are a good indicator of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the decline in 2001, the increases in 2002 brought emissions back to near 2000 levels. Factors that led to the increase in 2002 included: higher economic growth of 2.4 percent, compared with the 0.3 percent in 2001; colder winter weather than 2001, with a 1.2-percent increase in heating degree-days; warmer summer weather, causing an 8.8-percent increase in cooling degree-days compared to 2001; higher electricity demand; and an increase in coal- and gas-fired generation.

On a sectoral level, preliminary data indicate that carbon dioxide emissions in the residential sector grew by 2.9 percent due mainly to increased heating demand in winter, increased cooling demand in summer, and a rise in housing stock of 1.5 percent. Emissions from the commercial sector increased by 1.0 percent reflecting moderate economic growth.

Transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about a third of total carbon dioxide emissions, increased by 1.5 percent in 2002 as a 2.8-percent increase in motor gasoline emissions was partially offset by a 2.1-percent decrease in jet fuel emissions. Industrial emissions increased by 0.3 percent, reflecting relatively flat economic conditions in the industrial sector.

From 1990 to 2002, carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of carbon intensity, fell by 17.6 percent.

By 2001 (the latest year of data for all greenhouse gases), carbon intensity had fallen by 16.7 percent and emissions of total greenhouse gases per dollar of GDP had fallen by 18.6 when measured on a carbon dioxide equivalent basis.

EIA will continue to refine its estimates of 2002 carbon dioxide emissions as more complete energy data become available. A full inventory of 2002 emissions of all greenhouse gases will be available in October from EIA using revised energy data and providing a further analysis of trends.

The preliminary estimates are on EIA’s web site at:


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