EPA releases final version of 1990-2015 US greenhouse gas inventory

The Environmental Protection Agency has released the final version of its report titled Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2015.

The report provides a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the United States and calculates carbon dioxide emissions removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils.

The EPA National Greenhouse Gas Inventory is submitted annually to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Key findings from the 1990–2015 U.S. Inventory include the following:

  • In 2015, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,587 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, or 5,828 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents after accounting for sequestration from the land sector.
  • Emissions decreased from 2014 to 2015 by 2.3%. 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; warmer winter conditions that reduced demand for heating fuel in the residential and commercial sectors; and a slight decrease in electricity demand.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 11.5% below 2005 levels.

The Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULCF) chapter concludes that, overall, managed land is a net sink for carbon dioxide in the United States. The main drivers for net forest sequestration include net forest growth and increasing forest area, as well as a net accumulation of carbon stocks in harvested wood pools.

In 2015, the LULUCF sector resulted in a net increase in carbon stocks (i.e., net carbon dioxide removals) of 386.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents which represents an offset of 5.9% of total (i.e., gross) greenhouse gas emissions that year.
The full report and individual chapters are available for download at https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks-1990-2015.