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Freight Facts and Figures 2012

Table 5-16. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic End-Use Sector: 1990, 2005, and 2007-2010

In addition to CO, NOx, and particulate matter emissions, the transportation sector releases large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons. Transportation is responsible for about 27 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted in the United States and nearly 7 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted globally.1 When emissions from electricity generation are allocated among end-use sectors (on the basis of each sector's share of electricity consumption), the industrial sector produces the largest amount of GHG emissions, followed closely by transportation.

From 1990 to 2010, transportation GHG emissions rose by nearly 19 percent. However, transportation sector emissions decreased by 8 percent from 2007 to 2010, likely the result of the economic downtown and higher fuel prices, which led to a decrease in vehicle miles traveled and fuel consumption.

Table in Excel format | Historical data

Millions of metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent

Empty cell.Sector (R) 1990 (R) 2005 2007 (R) 2008 (R) 2009 2010
Industry2 2,237.7 2,159.9 2,185.9 2,131.5 1,905.8 2,019.0
Transportation3 1,548.3 2,022.3 2,007.6 1,894.6 1,823.9 1,838.6
Commercial 939.4 1,193.6 1,216.9 1,213.3 1,151.3 1,171.0
Residential 953.2 1,244.6 1,238.5 1,227.3 1,162.9 1,226.6
Agriculture 462.9 525.5 550.5 533.3 518.9 521.1
U.S. Territories4 33.7 58.2 53.5 48.4 45.5 45.5
Total 6,175.2 7,204.2 7,252.8 7,048.3 6,608.3 6,821.8

Key: CO2 = carbon dioxide; R = revised

1Emissions from electricity generation are allocated to each economic end-use sector on the basis of each sector's share of aggregate electricity consumption. This method assumes each sector consumes electricity that is generated from the national average mix of fuels according to their carbon intensity.

2Industry includes manufacturing, construction, and mining. Six manufacturing industries—petroleum refinieries, chemicals, primary metals, paper, food, and nonmetallic mineral products—represent the vast majority of energy use and thus GHG emissions in the industrial sector.

3Includes emissions from military aircraft (12.5 million metric tonnes in 2010) and "other" transportation, primarily lubricants (9.5 million metric tonnes in 2010). Emissions from international bunker fuels are not included.

4Electricity-related emissions were not distributed to U.S. Territories.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions include CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. CO2 equivalent is computed by multiplying the weight of the gas being measured by its estimated Global Warming Potential (GWP). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change developed the GWP concept to compare the ability of one GHG to trap heat in the atmosphere to another gas. Carbon comprises 12/44 of CO2 by weight. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, EPA 430-R-12-001 (Washington, DC: April 15, 2012), table ES-8, available at as of May 10, 2012.


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