EPA Publishes 29th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory
WASHINGTON (April 14, 2022) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 29th annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (GHG Inventory), which presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2020. 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. 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” said 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.”
For this latest release, EPA has made several important improvements. For example, EPA has added estimates for two important sources of methane: emissions from post-meter uses of natural gas, which includes 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. Additionally, the EPA worked with researchers to include estimates of methane emissions from large anomalous leak events, such as well blow-outs.
The GHG Inventory covers seven key greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. In addition to tracking U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Inventory also calculates carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere through the uptake of carbon in forests and other vegetation.
This impartial, policy neutral report has been compiled annually since 1993 and submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The report is prepared by EPA in collaboration with numerous experts from other federal agencies, state government authorities, research and academic institutions, and industry associations. Under the UNFCCC, national inventories for UNFCCC Annex I parties should be provided to the UNFCCC Secretariat each year by April 15.
In an effort to engage the public and researchers across the country, EPA conducts an annual public review and comment process for this document. The document was made available on the EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions website and announced via Federal Register Notice for 30 days. Comments received after the closure of the public comment period are accepted and considered for the next edition of this annual report. Public review of this year’s report occurred from February 15 to March 17, 2022, and comments received are posted to the docket EPAHQ-OAR-2022-0001. Responses to comments will be posted to EPA’s website within 2-4 weeks following publication of this report.