The amount of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming that were released into the air increased 0.6 percent last year, but fell in intensity when based on economic output, the government said on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON The amount of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming that were released into the air increased 0.6 percent last year, but fell in intensity when based on economic output, the government said on Tuesday.
Energy companies believe global warming will get more play in the new Democratic-led Congress that convenes in January. Democratic lawmakers are expected to push for legislation that would force oil refineries, utilities and other industries to lower their emissions of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 7.147 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005, up from 7.105 billion metric tons the year before, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
During 2005, about 83 percent of those emissions were made up of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, such as petroleum, coal and natural gas, the EIA said.
"U.S. emissions trends are driven largely by trends in fossil energy consumption," the Energy Department's analytical arm said.
Since 1990, which is the base year under the international Kyoto global warming treaty, the EIA said, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased 17 percent from 6.113 billion metric tons.
Industrial nations that have signed the Kyoto Protocol have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels. But developing countries, including China, are not subject to lower emissions targets.
President Bush withdrew the United States from the Kyoto deal, fearing the tough emission reductions would hurt the U.S. economy.
Instead, the Bush administration is urging U.S. companies to voluntarily cut their global warming emissions. The administration has set a national goal to reduce its greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent between 2002 and 2012.
The administration has signed up more than 200 companies to participate, accounting for 13 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The national greenhouse gas intensity has declined by 25 percent between 1990 and 2005, the EIA said.
However, most environmental groups and European nations have slammed the administration's approach, arguing it does not reduce total emissions released by the United States. Instead, it just cuts the amount of emissions the country emits per unit of its gross domestic product.
The United States is the world's largest energy consumer and biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, spewing about a fourth of all global warming emissions.