U.S.: Transportation Sector CO2 Emissions, by fuel type
YearMotor gasoline,
in mil. mt
in mil. mt
Jet fuel,
in mil. mt
  • Region: United States
  • Time period: 2000 to 2023
  • Published: Mar 2024

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Apr 7, 2024 | Published by: Statistico | About Us / Data / Analysis

Total Transportation-related CO₂ Emissions Trend

In 2023, the transportation sector emitted a total of 1,740 million metric tons of CO₂ from motor gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel combined. This total marks an increase from 2020's low of 1,535 million metric tons, highlighting a rebound in emissions as activities resumed post-pandemic restrictions. However, this figure still remains below the peak emissions of 1,908 million metric tons seen in 2007.

Dominance of Motor Gasoline in CO₂ Emissions

Motor gasoline has consistently been the largest source of CO₂ emissions in the transportation sector, with its emissions peaking at 1,188 million metric tons in 2006. Even in 2023, motor gasoline emissions were significant at 1,033 million metric tons, illustrating the ongoing reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles.

Trends in Diesel and Jet Fuel Emissions

Diesel emissions exhibited fluctuation, with a peak at 476 million metric tons in both 2006 and 2007, and a notable decrease to 460 million metric tons by 2023. Jet fuel emissions, after dropping to 161 million metric tons in 2020 due to travel restrictions, partially recovered to 247 million metric tons in 2023, yet this recovery remains incomplete compared to the 2000 peak of 259 million metric tons.

Year-over-Year Changes and Recovery Trends

The year 2021 marked a significant recovery phase with motor gasoline and jet fuel emissions increasing by 9.6% and 27.3% respectively, from the previous year, indicating a bounce back from pandemic-induced lows. Diesel emissions, however, showed a more stable trend with a slight decrease of -0.9% in 2023 compared to 2022.

Insight into Fuel-specific Emissions Peaks

The data reveals specific years where each fuel type peaked in emissions, underscoring distinct patterns in transportation fuel use. The peaks occurred in different years: motor gasoline in 2006, diesel in 2007, and jet fuel in 2000, suggesting varied factors influencing the emissions from different transportation modes over the years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which fuel type is the largest source of CO₂ emissions in transportation?

Motor gasoline is the largest source of CO₂ emissions in the transportation sector, with 1,033 million metric tons emitted in 2023.

Terms and Definitions

This refers to all vehicles, infrastructures, and operations involved in the movement of people and goods. It includes cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, ships, and their related infrastructures like roads, railways, airports, and ports.

CO₂ emissions refer to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. In the context of transportation, these emissions primarily come from the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Fuel type pertains to the different kinds of energy sources that are used to power vehicles. Common fuel types include petroleum-based fuels (such as gasoline and diesel), biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, and natural gas.

Biofuels are fuels that are derived from organic matter, either directly from plants or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and industrial wastes. They are a renewable source of energy.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources formed over millions of years from the remains of dead plants and animals. Common types include coal, oil (from which gasoline and diesel are derived), and natural gas. Burning fossil fuels releases CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used in fuel cells to power electric motors in vehicles. It can be produced from various domestic resources such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind.

A greenhouse gas inventory is a comprehensive accounting of the amount and sources of greenhouse gas emissions over a certain period. It helps to track the performance of emissions reduction efforts and inform policy.

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide, that are produced directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product. In this context, it would refer to the amount of CO₂ produced by the transportation sector.
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