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DEC Releases Updated Alaska Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report

For immediate release—January 30, 2018

Contact: Denise Koch, Division of Air Quality, 907-465-5109, denish.koch@alaska.gov

Juneau, AK—The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released its updated Alaska Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report. The report describes and quantifies human-caused sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions occurring between 1990 and 2015 from Alaska operations and facilities. Lowering emissions of GHGs globally is a key element of international efforts, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement, to address the causes of climate change. Finding opportunities in Alaska that help in this effort is one of the objectives of Administrative Order 289 issued by Governor Walker on October 31, 2017. To identify potential opportunities, it is necessary to know the source of GHG emissions in the state.

The updated inventory report builds on earlier reports issued by DEC (2007, 2015) and focuses primarily on GHG emissions from seven economic sectors in Alaska: industrial, transportation, residential and commercial, electrical generation, industrial processes, waste, and agriculture. The report also includes data on emissions from wildfires and emission reservoirs, also known as emission sinks, which in most years covered by the report have trapped and stored carbon from the atmosphere.

The GHG of primary concern is carbon dioxide which is released during the burning of gasoline, natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. The report concludes that the industrial sector, which include the oil, gas, and coal industries, produces the most GHG emissions in Alaska on an annual basis, followed by the transportation, residential and commercial, and the electric generation sectors. Waste, agriculture, and industrial process sectors each produce relatively small quantities of GHGs in Alaska (less than 1% for each sector).

“Seeing the oil and gas industry leading other Alaska industries in the amount of GHGs emitted is not unexpected,” noted DEC commissioner Larry Hartig. “Oil and gas development on the North Slope is the largest industrial complex in Alaska. Although it primarily relies on a relatively low-carbon fuel—natural gas—for the energy it needs to explore, produce, store, and transport crude oil and natural gas, it still ends up being the number one GHG emitter.”

Hartig added, “It is also not surprising to see the transportation sector as our second largest sector of GHG emissions, given the amount of jet traffic in and out of Alaska and the fact that the GHG emissions associated with the burning of jet fuel sold in Alaska are attributed to the transportation sector in the inventory report.”

Overall, there was a slight decrease (approximately 8%) in GHG emissions from economic sectors in Alaska from 1990 to 2015. While the specific causes of the decline have not been identified, likely causes could include upgrades to facilities, changes in operations at facilities, economic downturns, and federal regulatory requirements that impact GHG emissions.

Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions comprise about 0.63% of nationwide GHG emissions and 0.09% of global GHG emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and based on total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for 2014, Alaska ranks 40th in emissions amongst all states. On a per capita basis, Alaska ranks fourth in the nation. Again, this can be explained in part by the fact there is a relatively large industrial complex in a state with a relatively small population (ranked 48th after Wyoming and Vermont.)

“The GHG emissions inventory for Alaska is a living document, and we will continue to look for the most reliable sources of data and means to interpret it. We invite readers of the report to offer any additional data, analyses, and recommendations they have that might help us to improve the report,” explained Denise Koch, director of DEC’s Division of Air Quality.

View the updated GHG inventory report and previous GHG inventories. This website includes a Report Overview prepared by DEC’s Air Quality Division to help readers better understand the data and analyses in the report. View a copy of Governor Walker’s Administrative Order 289 on Climate Change.

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