U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions see first decline since 1991

July 1, 2002 — U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 1.1 percent in 2001, decreasing from 1,558 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCe) in 2000 to 1,540 MMTCe in 2001, according to preliminary estimates released recently by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The 2001 decrease of 1.1 percent is the first such decline since 1991, when emissions decreased by 1.2 percent. U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have averaged 1.2 percent annual growth since 1990.

The decline in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to a reduction in overall economic growth from 4.1 percent in 2000 to 1.2 percent in 2001; a 4.4-percent reduction in manufacturing output that lowered industrial emissions; warmer winter weather that decreased the demand for heating fuels; and a drop in electricity demand and coal-fired power generation that reduced emissions growth from electricity generation.

Because energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for 81 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, they are a good indicator of the level of, and rate of change in, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or “U.S. carbon-intensity,” fell from 169 metric tons per million 1996 constant dollars of GDP (MTCe/$Million GDP) in 2000 to 165 MTCe/$Million GDP in 2001.

Between 1990 and 2000, U.S. carbon intensity fell by 16.2 percent. Over the same time period, total greenhouse gas intensity, or total greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP, declined by 18.4 percent.

Preliminary data indicate that:
* Residential sector emissions grew by 1.8 percent, as increased housing starts were tempered by warmer weather.
* Commercial sector carbon dioxide emissions increased by 6.2 percent due to increased commercial development.
* Industrial sector carbon dioxide emissions fell by 9.1 percent, as industrial production and manufacturing activity were down.
* Transportation sector carbon dioxide emissions increased by 0.6 percent in 2001 as stronger growth early in the year was offset by declines in the fourth quarter.

A breakout by fuel type indicates that:
* Petroleum-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.3 percent, from 658 MMTCe in 2000 to 666 MMTCe in 2001.
* Coal-related carbon dioxide emissions fell by 1.9 percent, from 572 MMTCe in 2000 to 562 MMTCe in 2001.
* Natural gas-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 4.6 percent, from 327 MMTCe in 2000 to 312 MMTCe in 2001.

EIA will continue to refine its estimates of 2001 carbon dioxide emissions as more complete energy data become available. A full inventory of 2001 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: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/flash/flash.html.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the independent statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.

The information contained in the analysis and the press release should be attributed to the Energy Information Administration and should not be construed as advocating or reflecting any policy position of the Department of Energy or any other organization.

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