Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

Greenhouse gas emissions

Our GHG emissions come from facility energy use, transportation fuel use, waste disposal, employee commuting, contracted transportation services and other sources. Understanding how these sources contribute to our GHG inventory helps us develop strategies to reduce them.

FY 2013 greenhouse gas emissions

image of FY 2013 greenhouse gas emissions

Our GHG inventory also supports our USPS BlueEarth Product Carbon Accounting Service.

From FY 2008 to FY 2013, USPS reduced total GHG emissions by 12 percent, or 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e).

Our target is to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions 20 percent by FY 2020 from the baseline year FY 2008. Scope 1 includes direct GHG emissions from postal-owned sources, such as our facilities and vehicle fleet. Scope 2 includes indirect emissions from supplied electricity and steam. And Scope 3 includes other indirect sources, such as contracted transportation, leased facilities, employee commuting and others.

Total greenhouse gas emissions

image of total greenhouse gas emissions

GOAL: Reduce total GHG emissions 20% by FY 2020 based on FY 2008 baseline.

RESULTS: 12% reduction from 2008 from 2008 to 2013

FY 2013 GHG reductions were primarily achieved by using less electricity in our facilities and less fuel by our contract transportation providers. In contrast, GHG emissions from our postal vehicle fleet and heating fuel for our buildings increased.

Over the years, we have been using less energy in our buildings and reducing the impacts from our contracted transportation services by finding ways to be more efficient and matching operations more closely to customer demand for our services.

What are carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents?

The CO2 equivalent is a metric used to report total GHG emissions in terms of CO2. Emissions from non-CO2 GHG emissions are compared to CO2 based on their global warming potential (GWP), with CO2 having a GWP of 1. Learn more about CO2 at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website: www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html.

Understanding our GHG trends

According to the Universal Postal Union’s 2012 Annual Report, the United Nations agency for international postal services estimated that there are more than 800,000 post offices across the world and 5.5 million postal employees. In 2010, the global postal sector’s carbon footprint was at least 56.5 million metric tons CO2e — or approximately 0.15 percent of global emissions (not including support services).

Posts around the world are sharing best practices to reduce their GHG impacts. Members of the International Post Corporation (IPC) have come together to set GHG reduction targets, reflecting the Postal Service’s goal to reduce emissions 20 percent by 2020. Across the globe, posts are embracing energy efficiency, increasing recycling and choosing low-carbon vehicles. You can learn more about these programs in the 2013 IPC Postal Sector Sustainability Report, available at: sustainability.ipc.be/en/carbon-management/EMMS.

Together, the world’s posts are working to improve services while decreasing GHG emissions.

The Postal Service’s GHG reduction is comparable to using 3 million fewer barrels of oil.

Sea Surface Temperatures stamp 2014 release

This Global Forever stamp features a visual representation of our planet’s sea surface temperatures. The image was created by a model of the Earth’s climate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Their full animation shows how surface temperatures of the oceans vary seasonally and change over time — and how surface ocean currents and eddies transport heat and water around the globe.

Understanding the processes of our oceans is essential for modeling future changes. Climate models are mathematical representations of major climate systems and the interactions between them. Read more about climate models at: www.gfdl.noaa.gov/climate-modeling.

Prepare for future climate change

The Postal Service delivers to every address in the nation, including vulnerable coastal areas. The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group report has affirmed findings in earlier studies that the rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century is larger than the mean rate of the previous two millennia. Rising sea levels will affect our facilities and the coastal communities we serve. Learn more at: www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/.

During 2013, USPS consulted experts across the organization to determine the most efficient and effective road map for adapting to climate change. Increased flooding, rising sea levels, more intense extreme weather events, and changes in temperature, precipitation and drought patterns could potentially disrupt our ability to provide mail service. In order to safeguard our employees, network, transportation fleet and facilities, we are looking at ways to reduce our vulnerability to climate changes.

We will be releasing a new plan in 2014, consistent with Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. It directs federal agencies to integrate climate risks into their own operational planning as well as promote a better understanding of how federal policies and programs can improve the resiliency of the nation.

Employees learn about climate change

Informing employees about the impacts of climate change to our infrastructure and business operations is an important first step. During Energy Action Month, we partnered with NASA to create a video for our employees across the nation.