Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks
About the Emissions Inventory
EPA has prepared the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks since the early 1990s. This annual report provides a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the United States, including carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere by “sinks,” (e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils) from management of lands in their current use or as lands are converted to other uses. The gases covered by the Inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride.
The national greenhouse gas inventory is submitted to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change. In preparing the annual emissions inventory report, EPA collaborates with hundreds of experts representing more than a dozen U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, industry associations, consultants and environmental organizations. EPA also collects greenhouse gas emissions data from individual facilities and suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases through the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
Overview of Greenhouse Gases and Sources of Emissions
Key findings from the 1990-2020 U.S. Inventory include:
- In 2020, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 5,222 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents after accounting for sequestration from the land sector.
- Emissions decreased from 2019 to 2020 by 11% (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector). The primary driver for the decrease was an 11% decrease in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. This decrease was primarily due to a 13% decrease in transportation emissions driven by decreased demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Electric power sector emissions also decreased 10%, reflecting both a slight decrease in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic and a continued shift from coal to less carbon intensive natural gas and renewables.
- Greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 21% below 2005 levels.
See the Data
EPA has developed an interactive tool that provides access to data from the national greenhouse gas inventory. Visit the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer to create customized graphs, examine trends over time, and download the data. The graphs below are examples from EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer. Click either image to enter the tool and explore an interactive version of the graph.