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Comparing GHG Emissions Across States


This is the third in a series of posts on findings from the Inventory of Missouri’s Estimated Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 1990, published by MODNR in 1996.

GHG Emissions from Fossil Fuel by StateComparing GHG emissions between states is complex. I would not expect a small state to have as many emissions as a large one, nor an agricultural state to have as many as an industrial one, and so forth. Nevertheless, some comparative metrics may be useful, and emissions per person or per unit of economic activity may be the best. I can use population estimates from the Census Bureau to calculate that Missouri emitted 28.9 STCDE per person in 1990. I can use similar statistics on Gross State Product (GSP)from the Census Bureau to calculate emissions per unit of economic activity. In 1990, Missouri emitted 0.14 STCDE for every dollar of GSP.

GHG Per Capita Emissions from Fossil Fuel by State.xlsxHere are several graphs. The first shows 1990 GHG emissions from burning fossil fuel by state. This is probably the best data available, but it is not the same as total GHG emissions – emissions from sources other than burning fossil fuel are left out. The most significant emission omission is probably agriculture, which accounted for about 8.7% of Missouri emissions. The second graph shows the same data, except on a per capita basis, calculated using state population totals from the 1990 census. The third graph shows GHG emissions per dollar of Gross State Product, calculated using data on GSP from the U.S. Census Statistical Abstract for 2007.

Be careful with these graphs.  A significant portion of emissions from rural states may be related to agriculture, rather than burning fossil fuel, and it was not included. Further, the observed differences may indicate the different kinds of activities that occur in different states, not attitudes towards climate change or the environment.

GHG Per Gross State Product by StateDespite their limitations, the graphs present a starting point in trying to figure out where Missouri stands vis-a-vis other states. Our state has both a significant agricultural sector and a significant industrial sector. It is above the median in per capita emissions: 32 states have less, and 17 have more. It is close to the median in emissions per unit of economic activity: 23 emissions have less, 26 have more.


 Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Missouri, 4/1/2000 – 7/1/2009. U.S. Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/popest/data/cities/totals/2009/SUB-EST2009-4.html.

GHG emissions from fossil fuel combustion: State Energy CO2 Emissions, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/resources/state_energyco2inv.html.

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