• The Earth & I Editorial Team

Global Greenhouse Gases: How Much Do You Know?

We are all concerned about greenhouse gases. But what are they? And where do they come from?


Here are the Big Four and their percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions:

Global Greenhouse Gases: How Much Do You Know?   ©The Earth & I
  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2):The primary source is fossil fuel 65%), but it also comes from forestry and other land use, (11%)

  2. Methane (CH4): Agriculture, waste management, energy use, and the burning of biomass contribute to CH4 emissions, (16 %)

  3. Nitrous oxide (N2O): Agriculture, such as fertilizer application, is the primary source of N2O emissions. Fossil fuel combustion is also a source of N2O, (6%)

  4. Fluorinated gases (F-gases): Industry, refrigeration, and the use of certain consumer products contribute to F-gases emissions, which include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), (2%)

What sectors are cranking out greenhouse gases? Percentages, please!

  1. Electricity and Heat Production (25%): Burning coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the number one source of global greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Industry (21%): Emissions from industry primarily involve burning fossil fuels at facilities for energy. This includes emissions from chemical, metallurgical, and mineral transformation processes and emissions from waste management activities.

  3. Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (24%): Deforestation and agriculture (cultivation of crops and livestock) are the major emitters in this sector. The above estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon, which offset approximately 20% of emissions from this sector.[2]

  4. Transportation (14%): The emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for major types of transportation. Most (95%) of the world's transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels, mostly gasoline and diesel.

  5. Buildings (6%): Onsite energy generation and burning fuels for heat in buildings or cooking in homes are the emitters in this sector. (Note: Emissions from electricity use in buildings are excluded here.)

  6. Other Energy (10%): This source of emissions involves all emissions from the Energy sector not directly associated with electricity or heat production, such as fuel extraction and refining.

– Source: Report from EPA data


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