| NEW YORK
NEW YORK U.S. emissions of the gases blamed for
global warming fell 1.5 percent in 2006 on mild weather and
high fossil fuel prices, the statistics arm of the Department
of Energy estimated on Wednesday.
President George W. Bush said in a release that the drop
kept the country "well ahead" of his greenhouse gas intensity
goal, as measured by the amount of such gases emitted per unit
of economic activity.
But U.S. emissions remained much higher than they were in
1990, a key year in international efforts to fight climate
change because it is the baseline year for the U.N.'s Kyoto
Protocol. Rich countries that signed the pact have to cut their
emissions at least 5 percent under their 1990 levels by 2008 to
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year fell to about 7.08
billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the DOE's
Energy Information Administration estimated. It was the first
annual fall in U.S. emissions since 2001, when tourism travel
slowed after the airplane attacks in New York and Washington,
and the third since 1990.
Unseasonably cool weather in the summer and warm weather in
the winter kept power demand flat last year which reduced
emissions of CO2 from power plants, while higher prices for
energy cut emissions from industry and cars, the report said.
The annual report was released ahead of a meeting of
delegates from 190 countries in Bali, Indonesia, next month to
decide how to bind outsiders including the United States and
China into a U.N.-led fight against climate change.
"United States looks forward to working with partners to
reach consensus on a 'Bali Roadmap' at the upcoming U.N.
meeting on climate change in Indonesia," Bush said in the
The United States, which since the beginning of the oil age
has emitted more of the gases than any other country, does not
regulate the gases scientists say could spark an increase in
deadly storms, droughts and floods. Bush pulled the country out
of the Kyoto pact, saying it would hurt the economy and
unfairly leave rapidly developing countries without limits.
Instead, Bush set a goal in 2002 of cutting greenhouse gas
intensity 18 percent by 2012. The intensity fell last year by
4.2 percent, or more than double the average 2 percent decline
since 1990, and has fallen about 10 percent from 2002 to 2006,
the EIA said.
But Phil Clapp, president of nonprofit group the National
Environmental Trust, said Bush is on the defensive ahead of
Bali because Australia, the only other rich country not to sign
Kyoto, may soon ratify the pact.
"That gives the Bush administration every incentive to take
credit even for declines in greenhouse pollution that are due
to weather and $3 a gallon (gasoline) prices," he said in an
The report said U.S. emissions of gases, including CO2,
methane and nitrous oxide, were 15.1 percent higher last year
than in 1990.
And as energy demand and the U.S. population increase, the
country's CO2 emissions, which account for more than 80 percent
of the gases, should rise at an average annual rate of 1.1
percent from 2004 to 2030, it said.
(Additional reporting by Chris Baltimore in Washington;
editing by Jim Marshall)