This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 12, 2009

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions Projected to Drop 5% in 2009

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are projected to decrease by 5% in 2009, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook," released yesterday, projects annual energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the first time. Economic downturns are generally bad news, but they're great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because businesses and industries use less energy, and people generally drive less. In 2008, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 3.2% in the United States, and that trend is expected to deepen this year. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are the dominant greenhouse gases emitted in the United States, so the overall greenhouse gas emissions generally follow the same trend as the energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Breaking it down by fossil fuel, the EIA expects carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum to decline by 4% in 2009, primarily due to the decreased consumption of jet fuel and fuel oil, with motor fuel consumption holding steady. Emissions from burning natural gas should drop by 2.3%, due to a lower production of electricity, while emissions from burning coal are expected to drop by 7.9%, due to declining industrial use and the switch of electric utilities to fuels other than coal. Looking ahead to 2010, the EIA sees a 0.7% increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions as the economy improves. Increased coal and natural gas consumption will push coal emissions up by 1.1% and natural gas emissions up by 0.5%. And even though transportation fuel consumption is expected to increase by 1.5% in 2010, the growth in biofuels is expected to hold the growth in carbon dioxide emissions to only 0.6%. See the EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook."

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