The U.S Emissions Inventory is Comprehensive, but Information Could be Provided on a More Timely Basis

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The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks is a critical report that helps the U.S. government and the public apprehend the sources and trends of greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps the U.S. fulfill its international commitments to report its greenhouse gas inventory under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the leading agency for compiling and releasing GHG inventory reports. These reports are public and will be published each year around April. The U.S. inventory report is submitted to the UNFCCC and available on the EPA website for public review.

The EPA does its inventory based on national data sources and methods consistent with the UNFCCC’s guidelines. Still, it collaborates with other federal agencies, academic institutions, and non-profit and environmental organizations to accumulate and analyze this information.

The EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs compiles and releases these reports.  Some of the key personnel responsible for managing the inventory are:

  • Leif Hockstad, Director of the Climate Change Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA. Email:
  • Mausami Desai, Chief of the Inventory Development Group, Climate Change Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA. Email:
  • Lesley Jantarasami, Chief of the Inventory Analysis Group, Climate Change Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA. Email:

Given that the GHG Inventory Report typically provides valuable visions into concerns related to emissions that need to be addressed by policymakers, the latest date when the U.S. greenhouse gas inventory was released was April 14, 2022, which covered the emissions and sinks data for the year 2020.

Some of the features of the U.S. greenhouse gas inventory report for 2020 are:

  • “In 2020, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,340.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMT CO2 Eq.), or 5,586.0 MMT CO2 Eq. after accounting for sequestration from the land.
  • Emissions decreased in 2020 by 10% compared to 2019.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were 21% below 2005.
  • The different types of greenhouse gas emissions reported in the inventory are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
  • The leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were electricity generation (25%), transportation (29%), industry (23%), commercial and residential buildings (13%), and agriculture (10%).”

Based on the last greenhouse gas inventory report, the U.S. has made significant progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade, mainly due to significant changes in the energy sector, such as increased use of renewable energy sources and enhanced energy efficiency and fuel economy.

However, there are still challenges in meeting U.S. long-term climate goals, such as reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.  To achieve these goals, the U.S. needs to implement more ambitious policies and measures across all sectors of the economy, as well as enhance its cooperation with other countries and stakeholders.   There should also be an emphasized role of capacity building and training amongst all sectors’ workers and employees to educate them about the carbon footprint and how to reduce these harmful impacts.

Furthermore, by taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic and its temporary impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, there is still a need for building resilience and more robust adaptation strategies to climate change impacts, such as extreme weather events, wildfires, droughts, floods, and health risks.

This post was submitted by U.S. Country Manager Shahrzad Majdameli


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