NEW YORK Annual U.S. emissions of the main greenhouse gas from the burning of coal, natural gas and petroleum should fall 5 percent in 2009 as the recession crimps demand, the government's top energy forecaster said on Tuesday.
"The economic downturn, combined with natural gas displacing some coal as a source of electricity generation, is projected to lead to a 5 percent decline in fossil-fuel based (carbon dioxide) emissions in 2009," the Energy Information Administration said in its monthly forecast.
Carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources represented about 81 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas output in 2007, according to federal data.
The EIA said "an improving economy" should raise annual carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels by 0.7 percent next year.
It was the first time the EIA, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy, published the carbon dioxide emissions predictions in its monthly short-term outlook.
Fuel switching by electricity generators and declines in industrial use were projected to lead to a 7.9 percent decline in carbon emissions from coal in 2009, EIA said. Emissions from coal were expected to rise 1.1. percent next year.
Natural gas consumption was expected to fall in 2009 due to the downturn and despite being used more to generate power. That should lead to a carbon emissions decline of 2.3 percent from natural gas in 2009, the EIA said.
Petroleum emissions were expected to fall 4 percent in 2009, mostly due to declines in transportation. The EIA expected little change in carbon emissions from use of motor gasoline in 2009, but it expected 9.8 percent less emissions from jet fuel and an 8.2 percent decline in emissions from distillates fuels, which include diesel for trucks. Emissions from residual fuel, which is burned to generate electricity, were also expected to be down.
The EIA cut the monthly forecast for annual U.S. oil demand in 2009 by 140,000 barrels per day. It now expects this year's oil demand to be 790,000 barrels per day lower than last year.
The agency also cut the forecast for annual coal demand from power generators to 975 million tons, down 12 million tons from last month's outlook. That would be an annual drop in demand of 6.4 percent from 2008. Coal consumption by power generators was expected to rise 1.3 percent next year.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)