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May 06, 2022
29th annual greenhouse gas emissions report

On April 14, 2022, the EPA released its 29th annual report, “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks.” The report presents an overview of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 to 2020.

The GHG inventory covers seven key GHGs:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Hydrofluorocarbons
  • Perfluorocarbons
  • Sulfur hexafluoride
  • Nitrogen trifluoride

It also calculates CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere by trees, grass, and plants through carbon sequestration.?

“Net U.S. greenhouse gas?emissions were 5,222.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, a nearly 11% decrease in emissions from 2019,” an EPA news release says. “The sharp decline in emissions from 2019 to 2020 is largely due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on travel and economic activity. However, the decline also reflects the combined impacts of several factors, including population trends, energy market trends, technological changes including energy efficiency improvements, and the carbon intensity of energy fuel?choices.”

“The annual Inventory reflects EPA’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the data that inform all of our actions on climate change,” says Joseph Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “Each year, EPA follows a rigorous and open process to engage with researchers, federal partners and stakeholders and incorporate new information, resulting in a national Inventory that is unsurpassed in scope and quality.”

The emissions reductions reflected in this year’s report reveal a 10.6% decrease from 2019 to 2020 and a 21.4% decrease from 2005 levels. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion decreased 10.5%, and there was a 10.4% decrease in emissions in the electric power sector. The electric power sector decrease is attributed “to a decrease in electricity demand of about 2.5 percent and also reflects the continued shift from coal to less carbon intensive natural gas and renewables,” states the report.

Changes to this year’s report

The EPA added data to the annual report with this edition, including:

  • Estimates for the following two methane sources:
    • Emissions from post-meter uses of natural gas, which include leak emissions from residential and commercial appliances, industrial facilities and power plants, and natural gas-fueled vehicles; and
    • Emissions from flooded lands, such as hydroelectric and agricultural reservoirs.
  • Estimates of methane emissions from large anomalous leak events, such as well blowouts, were included.

Each year, this report is submitted to the United Nations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change by April 15.

To prepare the report, the EPA collaborates with numerous experts from other federal agencies, state government authorities, research and academic institutions, and industry associations. Before finalizing the annual report, it is published in the Federal Register and opened for a 30-day public review-and-comments period. Comments received for this year’s report can be found under docket #EPAHQ-OAR-2022-0001.

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