Proof of Concept for a U.S. Air Emissions Physical Flows Account (PDF)

Measuring the physical flows of resources and waste between the economy and environment is a central component of environmental-economic accounting as outlined in the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), the United Nations standard for environmental accounting.

This paper presents a SEEA-consistent proof-of-concept air emissions physical flows account for the United States. Primary data on emissions come from the U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI). The proof-of-concept account covers 2012–2017 and presents tabulated emissions by industry along with examples of additional analytic indicators such as trends in industry emissions and trends in emissions per dollar value added.

Primary challenges in constructing this account are (1) adjusting the GHGI data from territory- to residency-based, and (2) attributing emissions to industries and institutional sectors. In this proof-of-concept account, emissions are adjusted to a residency basis using data on the activities of U.S. resident agents abroad and are attributed to industries in proportion to related measures of activity, like fuel purchases or output.


Matthew Chambers

JEL Code(s) E01 E20 I31 L92 L93 Q5 Q53 Q54 Published