Planet-heating emissions in the US fell by more than 10% in 2020, a record drop generated by extraordinary reductions in travel and industrial activity in the teeth of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

The historic jolt to American life, which has resulted in more than 375,000 deaths and a huge surge in joblessness, caused many states to impose travel restrictions and curbs on business activity. This resulted in greenhouse gas emissions dropping by 10.3% last year, according to a new estimate by Rhodium Group.

It is the largest annual drop in emissions since the second world war, outstripping a temporary downturn in the 2009 recession, and has forced US carbon pollution to its lowest level in three decades. The reduction will also push the US toward its goal of reducing emissions by at least a quarter by 2025, based in 2005 levels, that it submitted as part of the Paris climate agreement.