Isle greenhouse gas emissions up 23%


POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Greenhouse gas emissions in Hawaii have jumped by nearly a quarter between 1990 and 2005, primarily from the use of fossil fuels, according to a report released today by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.




Hawaii's energy use

        Energy use in Hawaii is among the lowest in America, but the state's economy has tended to grow in ways that are increasing its carbon footprint, a report released today by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization shows.

» Out of all states and Washington, D.C., Hawaii ranks 47th in electricity use per capita and 43rd for total energy use in part because of a mild climate and shorter driving distances. Hawaii ranks No. 1 for energy prices.


» Isle greenhouse gas emissions per real dollar of gross state product have declined from 1990 to 2005. However, when air transport and international maritime activities are omitted, emissions per real dollar have increased by 0.016 kilograms of carbon dioxide per dollar of gross state product, or almost 4 percent.


Source: University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization


Electrical power production and vehicle use have pushed the state's greenhouse gas emissions up by 23 percent in the 15 years ending in 2005 - the period of the organization's studies - with 91.4 percent of the emissions coming from the combustion of fossil fuels.

When including air and international marine transportation, Hawaii's emissions would have increased by 7.1 percent because air travel has become less energy intensive.

The report states that scientists and climatologists believe elevated greenhouse gas concentrations are responsible for increases in temperatures and changes in climate, including extreme weather. The gasses absorb infrared radiation, keeping some of the sun's energy from escaping into space, thereby trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the report.

“;Over the past several decades, the concentration of greenhouse gases has been rising at an unprecedented rate,”; the report states. “;The likely effects of climate change place Hawaii's ecosystem and economy in a precarious position.”;

Hawaii's 2020 emissions are projected to change only slightly from 2005 levels because of improved vehicle fuel efficiency and a conversion to cleaner fuels by utilities.

The report estimates that the state would need to reduce its emissions by 13 percent to 23 percent to comply with the Hawaii Global Warming Act of 2007, which requires Hawaii to return its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Hawaii emissions per capita are 15 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, an increase of 8.1 percent above 1990 levels, excluding air and international marine transportation.

Ground transportation was the most significant source of emissions growth, jumping 53 percent since 1990, while electrical power production is the largest source of emissions in the state at 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005.

Emissions from air transportation decreased, the report shows, even as the number of passenger miles grew. Residential, commercial and industrial direct emissions also shrank.

“;Aircraft fuel efficiency, capacity management, improved air traffic control practices, and direct neighbor island flights from the U.S. mainland explain the decrease in Hawaii jet fuel and aviation gasoline consumption,”; the report states.