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Recession Drives Down U.S. CO2 Emissions 2.8%

eiaco2509Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. declined by 2.8 percent in 2008, according to a Energy Information Administration flash estimate. That’s the largest annual drop since the U.S. government began recording the data (total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions have grown by 15.9 percent since 1990). Total energy demand in 2008 fell by 2.2 percent.

Factors that influenced the emissions decrease included record-high oil prices and a decline in economic activity in the second half of the year. Oil-related emissions declined by 6 percent, accounting for the bulk of overall reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions.

The economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, grew by 1.1 percent in 2008, notwithstanding the economic downturn at the end of the year. With energy demand declining by 2.2 percent, energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) fell by 3.3 percent in 2008. Carbon dioxide intensity (carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP) fell by about 3.8 percent.

Specifically, U.S. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels decreased from 5,967 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2007 to 5,802 MMTCO2 in 2008.

eiaco2sector509eiaco2industrialFrom 1990 to 2008, the carbon dioxide intensity of the economy fell by 29.3 percent or 1.9 percent per year.

Sector Details:

– Emissions from the electric power sector decreased by about 2.1 percent, while power generation decreased by 1.0 percent, indicating an increase in wind-powered generation, according to EIA.

– The commercial sector experienced an emissions increase of 0.5 percent in 2008.

– Transportation-related emissions decreased by 5.2 percent in 2008.

– Industrial carbon dioxide emissions fell by 3.2 percent, continuing a trend of falling industrial sector emissions since 2004.

– Carbon dioxide emissions from the residential sector declined by 1.1 percent in 2008. Heating degree-days rose by 5.6 percent, but  cooling degree-days fell by 8.7 percent.

A full inventory of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will be issued in late 2009.

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