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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks

EPA develops an annual report, titled the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (Inventory), that tracks U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks by source, economic sector, and greenhouse gas going back to 1990.  EPA publishes the draft report in February to allow for public comment prior to publishing the final report by April 15 of every year. 

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. The gases covered by the Inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. The Inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils.

The national greenhouse gas inventory is submitted to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate ChangeExit. 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

Pie chart that shows different types of gases. 81% from carbon dioxide fossil fuel use, deforestation, decay of biomass, etc., 10% from methane, 6% from nitrous oxide and 3% from fluorinated gases.Larger image to save or print.

Key findings from the 1990-2016 U.S. Inventory include:

  • In 2016, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,511 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, or 5,795 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents after accounting for sequestration from the land sector.
  • Emissions decreased from 2015 to 2016 by 2.5 percent (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector).  This decrease was largely driven by a decrease in emissions from fossil fuel combustion, which was a result of multiple factors including substitution from coal to natural gas consumption in the electric power sector, and warmer winter conditions that reduced demand for heating fuel in the residential and commercial sectors.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 12 percent below 2005 levels. 

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2016Larger image to save or print.The graphs to the right provide an overview of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States based on information from the Inventory. To learn more about each of these topics, click on the links below:

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.

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Gas, 1990-2016

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector, 1990-2016

Full Report

View or download the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2016 (April 2018), including an executive summary, individual chapters, and annexes.