Tracking energy use, energy expenditures, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the first step in developing informed regional and local policies to increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. Starting in 2005, DVRPC has inventoried energy use and GHG emissions in Greater Philadelphia every five years. For planning purposes, energy use and GHG emissions in these inventories are allocated to the region's counties and municipalities. DVRPC's most recent inventory, two-page fact sheet [1.2 mb PDF], and map-based web tool displaying municipal allocations are for 2015. A detailed guide outlines DVRPC's methods and data sources. For more information please contact the Office of Energy and Climate Change Initiatives.
Our Region's Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In 2015, activities in the Greater Philadelphia region used about 1,174 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of fossil fuel, biomass, and nuclear energy either through direct consumption, such as for home heating, or for the generation of electricity used in the region. Fossil fuel combustion, both direct consumption and for electricity generation, along with non-energy sources of GHGs, resulted in GHG emissions equivalent to the release of 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2e). When carbon dioxide absorbed by growth of trees or released as a result of forest loss is taken into account, net emissions from the region in 2015 were about 74 MMTCO2e.
These estimated net annual regional GHG emissions are about 10 percent lower than the 81.7 MMTCO2e estimated for 2010. DVRPC's analysis shows that the greatest reductions in regional greenhouse gas emissions during this time were due to decreased emissions per kWh of electricity generated (a cleaner grid due in part to a shift from coal to natural gas in generation), decreased on-road emissions per mile traveled (cleaner vehicles due in part to federal corporate average fuel economy [CAFE] standards), and decreased electricity consumption per household, perhaps due to more efficient appliances and lighting.
The region's 2015 GHG emissions make up about 1.1 percent of the United States' total 2015 GHG emissions. Greater Philadelphia, with roughly 1.8 percent of the nation's population, has a per capita net emissions rate of 12.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e)—about 38 percent below the national average of about 21 MTCO2e per capita. The vast majority of emissions result from powering and heating the region's buildings. These together account for about 43.4 MMTCO2e of emissions or 58 percent of the region's total emissions. Emissions from mobile sources, such as fossil-fuel powered vehicles on the region's roadway, account for another 23.1 MMTCO2e of emissions, nearly a third of the region's emissions.
Connections 2050: Plan for Greater Philadelphia, DVRPC's long-range plan for future growth and development, calls for reduction of GHG emissions to a net zero level by 2050 through renewable energy, energy management, the electrification of buildings and vehicles, and improving transit and non-motorized travel options.
The 10 percent reduction in GHG emissions between 2010 and 2015 helps continue to move the region toward this goal. However, additional reductions are likely to be increasingly challenging to achieve, and will require sustained, concerted, and aggressive action at the household, firm, community, regional, state, national, and global level as well as continued technical advancement.