People’s Climate Solidarity March Minnesota, US. Photo: /FiboNacci Blue CC BY

CO2 makes up 81 per cent of US greenhouse gases

The website of the US EPA presents an inventory of GHG emissions for 1990 to 2016, but web pages containing detailed climate analysis were removed one year ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared an inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks since the early 1990s. The 2016 annual report provides a comprehensive account of total greenhouse gas emissions from all man-made sources in the United States. The gases covered by the inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride.

The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils.

Key findings from the 1990–2016 US Inventory include:

  • In 2016, US greenhouse gas emissions totalled 6,511 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, or 5,795 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents after accounting for sequestration from the land sector.
  • Emissions decreased from 2015 to 2016 by 2.5 per cent (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector). This decrease was largely driven by a decrease in emissions from fossil fuel combustion, which was a result of multiple factors including substitution from coal to natural gas consumption in the electric power sector, and warmer winter conditions that reduced demand for heating fuel in the residential and commercial sectors.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 12 percent below 2005 levels.

This information can still be found on the EPA website. But in April 2017 the EPA removed web pages providing information about climate change that had existed in some form for nearly two decades and under three presidents, the Washington Post reports. The pages explained the science of climate change and its effects, and described actions that individuals could take and that the agency itself was taking to work on the issue. Today, one year later, the agency’s climate pages are still down, and would-be visitors are redirected to a notice saying that “this page is being updated.” The reason for this is that the present US government does not regard global warming as man-made.

The Washington Post concludes that inside and outside the agency, scepticism is rising that the agency’s main climate web pages will ever go back online.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape

Overview of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. Source: US Environmental Protections Agency (2018). Inventory of US greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990-2016.


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