Greenhouse Emissions Escalate in 1996
Emissions of carbon dioxide increased by 3.5 percent in 1996 compared with 1995, to almost 1.5 billion metric tons, according to a recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Emissions of the principal greenhouse gases as a group (CO2, methane, NOx, and certain other gases) increased by 3.4 percent, to a total of 1.75 billion metric tons of carbon equivalent. U.S. national emissions in 1996 were 8.3 percent, or 135 million metric tons of carbon equivalent, higher than in 1990.
The report, “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 1996,” indicates that much of the rise in emissions between 1995 and 1996 was caused by colder than normal temperatures early in the year. The cold weather led to an increase in demand for natural gas, distillate fuel and electricity for heating in the residential and commercial energy sectors. Higher natural gas demand in turn caused a price spike which induced electricity generators to shift, where possible, to coal-powered generation; coal emissions in the electric power sector were up by 6.5 percent or over 28 million metric tons. Growth in the U.S. economy of 2.8 percent in 1996 also contributed to higher emissions.
Other major findings include:
Industrial sector emissions, comprising slightly more than 32 percent of the total, grew 2.6 percent in 1996.
Emissions of methane were unchanged in 1996. Methane accounts for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions on a carbon equivalent basis. Methane emissions are about 2 percent lower than the 1990 level.
Emissions of exotic gases such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexaflouride grew by more than 10 percent in 1996; while the global warming potential of these gases is high, their emission levels are still very low. p