U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose by 4.1% from major industrial sources in 2021 relative to 2020, according to data recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The increase is the largest year-on-year rise in emissions tallied across more than a decade of reporting. The emissions, totaling 2.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, were self-reported to the agency by more than 8,100 of the largest climate polluters under EPA’s mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

The data show that in 2021:

  • Power plants were the largest stationary source of U.S. GHG emissions, with 1,326 facilities reporting approximately 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. While reported power plant emissionsThe FLIGHT map shows the locations of direct-emitting facilities. Source: EPAThe FLIGHT map shows the locations of direct-emitting facilities. Source: EPA increased by 6.3% between 2020 and 2021, they have fallen 28.5% since 2011, reflecting the long-term shifts in power sector fuel-stock from coal to natural gas.
  • Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest stationary source of emissions, reporting 312 million metric tons of GHG emissions. Reported emissions for 2021 were 0.7% lower than in 2020, but 12.8% higher than 2016. (2016 is the earliest year of comparable data for this sector, as new industry segments began reporting that year.)
  • Reported direct emissions from other large sources in the industrial and waste sectors were a combined 807 million metric tons of GHG emissions in 2021, up 1.8% from 2020, and down 7.7% since 2011.

The locations of major emitters are available by state, county and city on the Facility Level Information on GreenHouse Gases Tool (FLIGHT).

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com