Frequently Asked Questions

How much carbon dioxide is produced by burning gasoline and diesel fuel?

About 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline that does not contain ethanol. About 22.38 pounds of CO2 are produced by burning a gallon of diesel fuel.

EIA estimates1 that U.S. motor gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation in 2014 resulted in the emission of about 1,075 million metric tons and 444 million metric tons of CO2, respectively, for a total of 1,519 million metric tons of CO2. This total was equivalent to 83% of total CO2 emissions by the U.S. transportation sector and equivalent to 28% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2014.

Under international agreement, CO2 emissions from the combustion of biomass or biofuels are not included in national greenhouse gas emissions inventories.2 Most of the retail gasoline now sold in the United States contains about 10% fuel ethanol (or E10) by volume. Burning a gallon of E10 produces about 17.68 pounds of CO2 that is emitted from the fossil fuel content. If the CO2 emissions from ethanol combustion are considered, then about 18.95 pounds of CO2 are produced when a gallon of E10 is combusted. About 12.73 pounds of CO2 are produced when a gallon of pure ethanol is combusted.

It is possible to buy biodiesel fuel in many states. Biodiesel fuel is sold with various amounts of biodiesel content. A commonly sold biodiesel fuel is B20, which contains 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel fuel.  Burning a gallon of B20 results in the emission of about 17.90 pounds of CO2 that is emitted from the fossil fuel content. If the emissions from burning the biodiesel in B20 are included, then about 22.06 pounds of CO2 are produced. About 20.77 pounds of CO2 are produced from burning a gallon of B100 (100% biodiesel).

1 As of June 25, 2015; preliminary estimates.
2  Environment (Section note), Monthly Energy Review.

Learn more:
Carbon dioxide emission factors for transportation fuels
Historical U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions by source (fuel type) and sector
Historical data on U.S. ethanol and biodiesel production and consumption (Tables 10.3 and 10.4)
Metric conversion factors

Last updated: July 7, 2015

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