US GHG Emissions Set To Increase Through 2020


photo via flickr

While scientists say we need to peak our emissions by 2015 and then dramatically reduce them thereafter, the US is projected to actually increase our greenhouse gas emissions through 2020, according to estimates from the government submitted to the United Nations. CO2 emissions are expected to rise about 1.5 percent and overall climate-warming pollution could go up by 4 percent. Most of the problem comes from the super greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are now used to replace ozone depleting chemicals used in refrigeration.

From the AP report:

"A large portion of emissions growth is driven by HFCs, which are projected to more than double between 2005 and 2020, as they are more extensively used as a substitute for ozone-depleting substances," the report submitted to the United Nations by the U.S. State Department says.

Overall, U.S. warming gases rose 17 percent from 1990 through 2007; the U.S. accounts for about a fifth of all emissions worldwide, behind only China.

By contrast, some 37 industrial nations have been modestly cutting back on emissions of greenhouse gases from 1990 levels under the 13-year-old Kyoto Protocol that the U.S. rejected.

Paying Instead of Acting
The submission by the Obama administration also renewed the U.S.'s pledge, made in Copenhagen, to contribute to a $30 billion fund, growing to $100 billion a year by 2020, for adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gases. In other words, the U.S. is paying other countries for the effects from climate change that we are helping to produce. Although the U.S. has 4 percent of the global population, we emit about 25 percent of the GHG pollution. Momentum has stalled to get a bill through Congress to cap pollution, and the funding for developing nations is considered by many to be too small.

With the oil spill still dominating headlines and the bad news in this report, one can only hope that President Obama will make a price on carbon and a cap on pollution his top priority.

More on the Copenhagen Accord:
Keep Track of Nations' Copenhagen Accord Commitments with US Climate Action Network
What's Missing in the Copenhagen Accord?