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Freight Facts and Figures 2013

Table 5-16. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Domestic Freight Transportation: 1990, 2005, and 2008-2011

Since 1990, the rate of growth of GHG emissions from freight sources has been more than four times as fast as that for passenger travel. Trucking accounted for 76 percent of freight emissions followed by freight rail, a distant second.

Table 5-16

Table in Excel format | Historical data

Millions of metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent

Mode 1990 2005 2008 (R) 2009 2010 2011 Percent change,
1990 to 2011
Trucking 231.1 (R)408.4 (R)427.0 (R)389.2 (R)402.9 401.1 73.6
Freight Rail 34.5 46.7 44.4 37.2 40.0 42.0 21.7
Ships and Other Boats1 30.6 27.9 (R)28.4 (R)23.9 (R)27.3 31.4 2.6
Pipelines2 (R)36.0 32.2 35.6 (R)36.7 (R)37.1 37.7 4.7
Commercial Aircraft (R)19.2 (R)21.4 (R)18.0 (R)16.7 (R)16.3 16.5 -14.1
Freight Total (R)351.5 (R)536.5 (R)553.4 (R)503.7 (R)523.6 528.7 50.4
Passenger Total (R)1,157.6 (R)1,450.9 (R)1,340.1 (R)1,317.3 (R)1,310.1 1,283.2 10.9
Transportation Total3 (R)1,556.3 (R)2,017.2 (R)1,920.8 (R)1,845.2 (R)1,856.9 1,833.7 17.8
Freight as % of Transportation Total (R)22.6 (R)26.6 (R)28.8 (R)27.3 (R)28.2 28.8 27.4

Key: CO2 = carbon dioxide; R = revised.

1Fluctuations in emissions estimates reflect data collection problems.

2Includes only CO2 emissions from natural gas used to power pipelines.

3Includes greenhouse gas emissions from military aircraft (12.6 million metric tonnes in 2011); "other" transportation, primarily lubricants (9.0 million metric tonnes in 2011); and electricity-related emissions. Emissions from international bunker fuels are not included.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used U.S. Department of Energy fuel consumption data to allocate freight and passenger rail emissions. EPA used U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics data on freight shipped by commercial aircraft and the total number of passengers enplaned to split commercial aircraft emissions. Each passenger was estimated to weigh an average of 150 pounds and luggage was estimated to weigh 50 pounds. Previous Inventories included commercial aircraft emissions under passenger travel. 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: 1990-2011, EPA 430-R-13-001 (Washington, DC: April 12, 2013), table ES-8 and Annex 3, tables A-114 and A-115, available at as of September 13, 2013.


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