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U.S. CO2 Emissions Down 17% Since 2005, Despite 2022 Increase

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.3% in 2022, reflecting post-COVID economic recovery, but declined 17% since 2005, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Annual US Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHG Inventory), released every April. 

The EPA’s neutral policy report has been released annually since its inception in 1993, in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Total gross U.S. emissions decreased by 3% from 1990 to 2022, down from a high of 15.2% above 1990 levels in 2007. From 2021 to 2022, gross emissions increased by 0.2%, while overall net emissions increased by 1.3% during that same time period. 

The 2022 increase was “driven largely by an increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion across most end-use sectors due in part to increased energy use from the continued rebound of economic activity after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fossil fuel combustion accounted for the largest share of U.S. CO2 emissions, which peaked in 2005 and have been declining for the most part since, though not declining enough to reach the level of 1990. Within the category of fossil fuel combustion, transportation leads the way as the top emission, following electricity generation. 

Over the 33-year period of 1990 to 2022, total emissions from the Energy and Waste sectors decreased by 3.4%, according to the EPA report, while emissions from industrial processes rose by 3.9% and those from agriculture rose by 7.7% percent.

The two main categories of energy emissions listed by the EPA are direct emissions associated with fuel use, such as fossil fuel combustion, and fugitive emissions primarily coming from coal, natural gas and oil production. 

“In 2022, 83.0 percent of the energy used in the United States on a Btu basis was produced through the combustion of fossil fuels. The remaining 17.0 percent came from other energy sources such as hydropower, biomass, nuclear, wind, and solar energy,” the report said. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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