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Transportation and Climate

Basic Information

nine small sized images, including truck, traffic flow, global, airplane, ship, and bus

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Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Over the past 200 years, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil have caused the concentration of heat-trapping 'greenhouse gases' to increase significantly in our atmosphere. These gases prevent heat from escaping to space, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse.

The levels of these gases are increasing at a faster rate than at any time in hundreds of thousands of years. If human activities continue to release greenhouse gases at or above the current rate, we will continue to increase average temperatures around the globe. Increases in global temperatures will most likely change our planet's climate in ways that will have significant long term effects on people and the environment.

For more information on climate change, visit EPA's Climate Change Home page.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation

Transportation sources emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The transportation sector is one of the largest sources of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2011, transportation represented approximately 27 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. Transportation also accounts for over half of the net increase in total U.S. GHG emissions from 1990-2011.

Fast Facts: U.S. Transportation Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The 2011 Report (PDF) (5 pp, 1.7MB, EPA-420-F-13-033a, September 2013) provides a summary overview of GHG emissions from the transportation sector from 1990-2011, as reported in the annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. Previous versions of Fast Facts are also available in the archives.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector: 1990-2003 includes information on GHG emissions from the transportation sector, including how emissions are measured. To find the most up-to-date estimates of U.S. transportation GHG emissions for any year, please see the current version of Fast Facts (5 pp, 1.7MB, EPA-420-F-13-033a, September 2013) or the U.S. GHG Inventory Report.

Transportation Solutions

While transportation continues to contribute a large percentage of U.S. emissions, there are exciting opportunities for the sector to deliver greenhouse gas reductions. Low-carbon fuels, new and improved vehicle technologies, strategies to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled, and operating vehicles more efficiently are all approaches to reducing greenhouse gases from transportation. In combination, these strategies can reduce transportation-related emissions significantly.

For more information, see Strategies & Analysis and Regulations.

This page is maintained by EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ).
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