How is the United States doing in its quest to tread more lightly on the environment? Information from fossil-fuel use and cement production for 2008, the United States ranks as the world’s second largest national source of fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions behind China with emissions of 1.55 billion metric tons of carbon. So how are we really doing on reducing our CO2 emissions. It’s not a simple question so there is no simple answer – but we are making progress. It’s important to recognize the gains made by those of us who take the challenge seriously. Good news for example, efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s February 2011 Monthly Energy Review, CO2 emissions are decreasing. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, sought to establish a binding agreement among developed nations to reduce GHG emissions. The U.S., of course, hasn’t signed it, but we were involved in crafting it. The non-binding target for the U.S. is to reduce emissions 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. This is harder than it sounds because by 1997 our CO2 emission levels were already about 10% higher than the 1990 levels. How have we done since then? Well, we aren’t there yet – in fact we aren’t back down to 1990 levels, much less a reduction of 7%. But what is encouraging is that the trend of rising emissions is flattening. In 2009 residential CO2 emission levels were the lowest since 1999, and were down nearly 8% from the peak reached in 2005. 2010 levels are up a little, but still down about 3% from 2005.
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