US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dropped 2.9 Percent in 2008

Total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States dropped 2.9 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the 2008 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory finalized by the EPA late last week.

The downward trend is attributed to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions associated with the higher cost of transportation fuel in 2008, the agency reported. Gas prices spiked in 2008, reaching $5 a gallon in some places.

Globally, approximately 30,377 million metric tons of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels in 2008, of which the US contributed 19 percent, according to the report, which is available here.

Emissions leveling off?

The EPA pointed out in a press release that while emissions declined in 2008, they are still 13.5 percent higher than 1990 levels. That year is the benchmark for emission reduction plans like those now circulating in Congress.

Greenhouse gas emissions also fell in 2005-2006, though by a smaller percentage, before rising again in 2007. The year 2000 had the highest measured amount of ghg emissions so far, with 6,380 million metric tons of CO2 or equivalent gases.

Greenhouse gases covered under the inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The inventory also calculates CO2 emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks” which occurs through the absorption of carbon by vegetation and soil.

The report will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and includes historical data going back to 1990.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

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