WASHINGTON – Emissions of gases blamed for warming the atmosphere grew by 2 percent in the United States last year, the Energy Department reported Monday. The report came just nine days after a United Nations conference where the United States and China refused to join any talks for imposing binding limits on emissions of those gases.
The so-called greenhouse gases, led by carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, rose to 7.12 million metric tons, up from 6.98 million metric tons in 2003, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said.
That's 16 percent higher than in 1990, and an average annual increase of 1.1 percent.
About 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases last year was carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels — coal, petroleum and natural gas — for electricity, transportation, manufacturing and other industrial processes.
The U.N. conference's Kyoto Protocol, which took effect among developing countries last year despite President Bush's rejection of it in 2001, had called for nations to cut their 1990 levels of "greenhouse" gas emissions by 5 percent by 2012.
Instead, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 would be nearly 25 percent higher than they were in 1990 if they continue at the current pace of growth. The United States is responsible for a quarter of these heat-trapping gases globally.
More than 150 nations have agreed to negotiate a second phase of mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012. India has joined the United States and China in declining to take part in it.
Under the Bush Administration, the United States has focused on voluntary efforts and bilateral and regional arrangements to combat climate change while devoting about $3 billion a year in government funds to research and development of energy-saving technologies. One of those programs includes contributing seed money to companies that can export U.S. technology for reusing methane, the second biggest greenhouse gas.