U.S. Energy Information Administration logo
Skip to sub-navigation
‹ Environment

Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U. S.

Release Date: March 31, 2011   |  Next Release Date: Report Discontinued   |   Report Number: DOE/EIA-0573(2009)

This report—the eighteenth annual report—presents the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest estimates of emissions for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases.

Download the GHG Report


Report in PDFFor this report, activity data on coal and natural gas consumption and electricity sales and losses by sector were obtained from the January 2011 Monthly Energy Review (MER).

In keeping with current international practice, this report presents data on greenhouse gas emissions in million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. The data can be converted to carbon equivalent units by multiplying by 12/44.

Data on ozone-depleting gases with high global warming potentials (high-GWP gases) are obtained directly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For this report, updated EPA values were available for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); however, no updates were available for perfluorocarbons (PFCs) or sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and last year's values are used instead.

Historical data in the chapter tables are revised from the data contained in the previous Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2008.


Total emissions

Total U.S. anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 were 5.8 percent below the 2008 total (Table 1). The decline in total emissions—from 6,983 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2008 to 6,576 MMTCO2e in 2009—was the largest since emissions have been tracked over the 1990-2009 time frame. It was largely the result of a 419-MMTCO2e drop in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (7.1 percent). There was a small increase of 7 MMTCO2e (0.9 percent) in methane (CH4) emissions, and an increase of 8 MMTCO2e (4.9 percent), based on partial data, in emissions of man-made gases with high global warming potentials (high-GWP gases). (Draft estimates for emissions of HFC and PFC substitutes for ozone-depleting substances in 2009 are included; 2008 data are used for emissions of other high-GWP gases.) Emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), on the other hand, fell by 4 MMTCO2e (1.7 percent).

The decrease in U.S. CO2 emissions in 2009 resulted primarily from three factors: an economy in recession, a particularly hard-hit energy-intensive industries sector, and a large drop in the price of natural gas that caused fuel switching away from coal to natural gas in the electric power sector.

Emissions by gas
Figure Data

Methane emissions totaled 731 MMTCO2e in 2009 (Figure 1), up by 7 MMTCO2e (0.9 percent) from 2008. Increases in energy-related methane emissions—largely from underground coal mining—were offset by decreases in emissions from agricultural sources. Methane emissions from waste management systems rose by 7 MMTCO2e, while industrial emissions declined by 0.4 MMTCO2e.

Emissions of nitrous oxide dropped by 4 MMTCO2e (1.7 percent) to 220 MMTCO2e. The decrease came mainly from a reduction in energy-related emissions, as well as declines in industrial-related and agricultural nitrous oxide emissions.

Based on a partial estimate, U.S. emissions of high-GWP gases totaled 178 MMTCO2e in 2009—8 MMTCO2e (4.9 percent) above the 2008 level. Emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) rose by 7 MMTCO2e (5.4 percent) from 2008 to 2009.

Read More ›


Data Tables

1 U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, based on global warming potential, 1990-2009    
2 U.S. greenhouse gas intensity and related factors, 1990-2009    
3 Distribution of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by end-use sector, 2009    
4 World energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by region, 1990-2035    
5 Greenhouse gases and 100-year net global warming potentials    
6 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry, 1990-2009    
7 U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by end-use sector, 1990-2009    
8 U.S. carbon dioxide emission from residential sector energy consumption, 1990-2009    
9 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from commercial sector energy consumption, 1990-2009    
10 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sector energy consumption, 1990-2009    

View more ›