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US: 2022 EPA emissions inventory highlights agriculture's sustainability strides

On April 11, the Environmental Protection Agency published the latest edition of the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2022. The report has been published annually since 1990 and provides an annual estimate of all man-made greenhouse gas emission sources in the U.S. as well as estimates of the amount of carbon trapped in forest and vegetation soil. This report is submitted to the United Nations as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reporting guidelines on annual inventories, which is part of a global standardized process for reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Previous Market Intel articles have reviewed the emissions for 2017 (Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions), 2018 (Agriculture's Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks), 2019 (Previewing 2019 Agricultural Emissions), 2020 (2020 EPA Emissions Inventory Demonstrates Agriculture's Advancements in Sustainability) and 2021 (2021 EPA Emissions Inventory Demonstrates Agriculture's Continuing Advancements in Sustainability), as well as trends in carbon sequestration (Reviewing U.S. Carbon Sequestration).

U.S. agriculture represents just under 10% of total U.S. emissions when compared to other economic sectors. Overall, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased from 2021 to 2022 by 1.3%, though agricultural emissions dropped by 1.8% - the largest decrease of any economic sector. The aggregate nationwide emissions increase in 2022 was likely a result of the continued return of economic activity after the COVID-19 pandemic; with the slow return of food service, entertainment, and travel came the emissions associated with those activities. Agricultural production remained vital throughout the COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns as the world still required food. Net emissions were 17% below 2005 levels.

The nearly 2% drop in U.S. agricultural emissions from 2021 to 2022 highlights the success and continued importance of voluntary, market- and incentive-based conservation practices that help farmers and ranchers access finances for the research and technology needed to take ever-better care of our natural resources. 2022 marks the lowest U.S. agricultural greenhouse gas emissions since 2012.

This article provides an overview of 2022 emissions as detailed in EPA's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2022 report. It is important to note, each year EPA updates the methodologies used for their estimations and retroactively applies this updated methodology to all years since 1990. This means that data in this iteration of the report is not comparable to the values reported last year.


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