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DOE reports 1.7% increase in CO2 emissions

August 17, 2005—The emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels in the US increased by 1.7 percent in 2004, according to preliminary estimates by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are the primary source of greenhouse gases in the US, and are generally indicative of overall greenhouse gas emissions trends. According to the EIA, these emissions have increased by 18.2 percent since 1990.

At the same time, however, the US gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at a faster rate, causing the carbon dioxide intensity of the economy-that is, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP-to actually drop by 22.5 percent.

Despite the trends, a number of states and cities have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in recent weeks. Most notable is California, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued an executive order setting a number of greenhouse gas targets.

Mayors of US cities are also getting into the act, as the US Council of Mayors endorsed an effort by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels to challenge cities to meet or beat the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol: cutting emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Before the meeting of the council in mid-June, 164 cities had signed on to the challenge.

Portland, Oregon, has the largest head start: city officials announced in June that Portland has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.

Portland officials credit the city's investments in public transit, energy efficiency, renewable energy, green building technologies, and recycling.

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