U.S. carbon emissions to rise in 2012: EIA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from fossil fuels are expected to fall in 2011 but rise in 2012 as the economy recovers, the government’s energy forecaster said on Tuesday.

U.S. fossil-fuel based carbon emissions should fall 0.6 percent this year to 5.587 million tonnes, the Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources make up about 80 percent of the country’s output of gases blamed for warming the planet.

The decline in 2011 emissions will be due to lower power demand as temperatures return to normal after a hot summer drove power demand last year, the EIA said. In addition, power generators are expected to rely more on hydropower and other virtually carbon-free alternative energies.

In 2012 U.S. carbon emissions from fuels should grow about 2.39 percent to 5.720 million tonnes, as an improved economy drives demand for electricity and motor fuels, the EIA said.

Even with the gain, U.S. fossil fuel emissions in 2012 will remain below levels seen since 1999 and will be 4.4 percent below emissions levels in 2005, the baseline year for the U.S. emissions target.

President Barack Obama has pledged that the United States will cut overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Last year, the EIA had said both 2011 and 2012 emissions would grow as a stronger economy led to more robust coal, gasoline and diesel demand.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker