DOE says carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.7% last year

Associated Press

Saturday, June 30, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions jumped 2.7 percent in the United States last year, the biggest increase since the mid-1990s, the Energy Department reported Friday.

The Energy Information Administration said the unusually high increase appeared to be the result of continued economic growth and more use of fossil fuels caused by colder weather and a drought that hindered hydroelectric power generation.

Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the most prevalent of the so-called "greenhouse" gases, whose growing concentration in the atmosphere is believed to be warming the earth. Many scientists believe such warming will cause severe climate changes over the next 100 years if not curtailed.

The United States and other industrial countries agreed in 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to try to bring greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2000. After it became clear that the goal would not be achieved, the same countries agreed in 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, to mandatory commitments to reduce the emissions by 2012.

Recently, President Bush rejected the Kyoto agreement, which has not been ratified by the United States, saying he wanted to address climate change largely through voluntary action and technological improvements.

The latest numbers "show just how ineffective voluntary emissions reductions programs are," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, an advocacy group that supports the mandatory reductions required by the Kyoto agreement.

"It's another wake-up call," said Alden Meyer, a climate change specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Clearly it shows a voluntary-only approach is not enough to turn emissions down."

The United States released 1,558 million metric tons of carbon from fossil fuel burning in 2000, or 41 million metric tons more than in 1999. The 2.7 percent growth rate was the biggest since a 3.6 percent increase in 1996.

The amount of carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning in the United States in 2000 was 16 percent, more than that released in 1990, the agency said.