Air Pollution Control Equipment Services, Emissions

Carbon Emissions Up Only Slightly Thanks To El Nino’s Warm Winter

Issue 8 and Volume 103.

CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels rose only 0.4 percent in 1998 – the smallest increase since 1991 – despite economic growth of 3.9 percent, according to preliminary numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

CO2 emissions account for about 84 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and are a good early indicator of total U.S. emissions.

Emissions resulting from increased electricity consumption during the hotter-than-normal summer were more than offset by a much warmer-than-normal winter, which reduced consumption of heating fuels. Emissions in the residential and commercial sectors both increased by 0.5 percent. Emissions from these sectors, which collectively accounted for 36 percent of 1998 emissions, have been growing about 1.7 percent annually since 1990.

Emissions in the transportation sector, accounting for about a third of total emissions, increased by 1.8 percent in 1998.

Newly revised petroleum data indicate that total U.S. petroleum consumption in 1998 was about 1 percent higher than the EIA data released earlier this year. Most of the revisions were in transportation fuels such as jet fuel and gasoline.

Despite rapid growth of the economy, estimated industrial emissions in 1998 declined by 1.2 percent. Preliminary data show a 2.5 percent decline in the industrial emissions from natural gas, a 6 percent decline in emissions from petroleum and a 3.4 percent decline in emissions from coal. Emissions attributed to the industrial sector’s pro-rated share of electricity consumption grew at a rate of 2.6 percent.

Emissions from electric utilities, which are allocated by the EIA to the other sectors by their levels of electricity demand, increased by 3.2 percent in 1998. Utilities took advantage of bargain oil prices and used higher-emitting oil in dual-fired generators instead of natural gas. Also, warm weather created a higher demand for residential electricity thus contributing to emissions growth.