Impacts of COVID-19 on transportation emissionsU.S. transportation sector emissions increased by 10.5 percent in 2021, having plummeted 15 percent the year before due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Transportation-related CO2 emissions decreased dramatically in the first months of the outbreak due to strict lockdowns, falling 34 percent in April 2020, relative to April 2019. Monthly transportation emissions remained far lower than normal throughout the rest of the year and only returned to pre-pandemic levels in November 2021.
Emissions from passenger cars – the largest source of U.S. transportation emissions - were significantly affected by the pandemic in 2020, plummeting nearly 20 percent compared with the previous year to 618 MtCO2e. However, domestic commercial aircrafts experienced the largest percentage reduction, at 32 percent.