U.S. Greenhouse Gas Growth Rate Rose in 2004, Says EPA
NEW YORK The growth rate of U.S. emissions of gases blamed for global warming rose in 2004, as the country burned more fossil fuel for transportation and electricity, according to federal environment regulators.
The United States, the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, released about 7.075 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent last year, according to a draft report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The growth rate was stronger than in each of the previous two years with emissions rising 0.6 percent in 2003 and 0.7 percent in 2002. In 2001, when the economy was sluggish, emissions fell 1.6 percent, EPA said.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, have risen 15.8 percent from 1990 to 2004, according to the EPA.
President Bush says U.S. greenhouse gas intensity, or the amount of greenhouse gas emission for every dollar of economic output, is falling. He prefers voluntary methods of cutting emissions.
The United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming signed by 156 countries requires developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent of their 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.
President Bush pulled out of the Kyoto pact in 2001, saying it would harm the economy.
So far, adherence to the Kyoto goals has been patchy. The U.N. climate office said earlier this month that Kyoto nations were on track to cut emissions by 3.5 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2012 but that the goal of 5.2 percent could be reached by introducing extra measures.
The EPA did not indicate how U.S. emissions would fare in the future, but climate researchers say voluntary cuts won't trim overall greenhouse output in the United States.
"Voluntary programs that are aimed at reducing emissions ... are offset by the growth because there are no requirements overall," said Vicki Arroyo, director of policy at analysis at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Virginia.
At a U.N. conference in December the United States agreed to participate in talks about extending Kyoto Protocol beyond its first phase, but only after the text was watered down to say the discussions would not lead to mandatory emissions caps.
The EPA follows U.N. methods in assessing greenhouse gas emissions and is the official U.S. tally of greenhouse emissions. In December, the Department of Energy said U.S. emissions of heat-trapping gases rose 2 percent last year.