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U.S. C[O.sub.2] emissions continue to fall.

The United States government seems to be allergic to making binding commitments toward reducing the emissions of gases linked to climate change, but in spite of that, some progress is being made on that front, according to reports released in May and June.

While the United States has no national mechanism in place to restrict emissions from power plants, vehicles, and other sources of carbon dioxide, methane, and various heat-trapping gases, nine states in the Northeast have banded together to create a regional plan. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative established in 2008 a system where emissions of climate-altering gases were capped and the rights to emit those gases would be auctioned: a cap-and-trade market.

The market is limited to utilities.

The initial cap was set at 165 million short tons of C[O.sub.2] per year through 2012, but the utilities have already cut emissions well below that level, averaging 126 million tons from 2009 through 2011, the RGGI reported in June. That level is below the goal set for 2018.

The global recession at the beginning of that period had some effect on the emissions drop; average power consumption over the three-year period was 2.4 percent below the average for the years 2006 through 2008. But other factors had greater effects, according to RGGI. Chief among them were the switch from coal to natural gas as a fuel for power production, state investments in energy efficiency, and a greater use of carbon-free energy sources such as wind and solar.

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from Northeast utilities reflected a larger trend in the United States. According to a May report by the International Energy Agency, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States fell by 92 million metric tons--or 1.7 percent--in 2011. Since 2006, annual U.S. emissions have dropped by 430 million metric tons, or 7.7 percent, the IEA said. In fact, the drop in U.S. emissions is larger than that of any other country.

The emissions reduction was due to several long-term trends, the IEA reported. Increased automobile efficiency and high fuel prices have reduced oil consumption, and power utilities are shifting away from coal to low-carbon fuels such as natural gas.

The good emissions news in the U.S. was, however, offset by increased carbon emissions in the developing world, especially China and India. The 0.6 percent emissions reduction in the developed world in 2011 was swamped by the 6.1 percent increase in the developing world, the IEA reported.

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Title Annotation:NEWS & NOTES
Comment:U.S. C[O.sub.2] emissions continue to fall.(NEWS & NOTES)
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2012
Words:420
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