Green House Gasses

Classified Green House Gasses

Green House Gasses

While CO2 is the most prominent green house gas, other gasses contribute to global warming as well.. There are six directly controllable green house gasses that are covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

To compare the influence of the individual gasses, they are associated with a factor, Global Warming Potential, relative to the impact of CO2.

Emission targets are given in units of CO2 equivalents, which is the product of the global warming potential of the gas and the weight. This is the quantity of CO2, which would have the same effect on global warming over a duration of 100 years as the individual gas. These gasses are commonly included when determining the carbon footprint of an organisation as part of a carbon management strategy.

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There are other green house gasses, though they were not considered wortthy of inclusion in the Kyoto Protocol - mostly because of low volume at the time of the Kyoto Protocol. As a notable exception, NF3 was not included. With the rise of plasma screens and thin-film solar panels, demand in SF6 (for cleaning) rose as well. As SF6 had been included in the Kyoto Protocol, industry switched to the substitute NF3 , which has almost the same green house warming potential as SF6. Substitutes for NF3 exist as well, though there is little pressure to switch while it is still not on the official list.

Gas   GWP  
CO2 Carbon Dioxide 1 CO2 is released into the atmosphere when any form of carbon is burned in excess of oxygen. Natural sources include volcano eruptions, forest fires, evaporations from the oceans and decay of dead plants and animals. Man-made sources include burning of fossil fuels, cement and aluminium production, and limestone use. It is partially removed from the atmosphere by absorption by seawater and photosynthesis in forests, grass and plankton. CO2 is the largest individula contributor (60%) to the man-made greenhouse effect
CH4 Methane 21 Remains in the atmosphere for 9 - 14 years, is the primary component of natural gas. Human-influenced sources (~60% of total methane) include landfills, oil & gas production, coal mining, agricultural activities.
N2O Nitrous Oxide 310 Nitrous oxide is naturally produced by oceans and rainforests. Man-made sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, the use of fertilisers in agriculture, cars with catalytic converters and the burning of organic matter.


140 - 11,700 HFCs are used as refrigerants, especially after the ozone-destroying CFCs had been under the Montreal Protocol
PFCs Perfluorocarbons 6,500 - 9.200 Emitted as a result of production of flourites, they have an atmospheric lifetime of more than 1,000 years.
SF6 Sulphur Hexafluoride 23,900 The most powerful green house gas yet discovered, it is emitted as result of production of flourites.
NF3 Nitrogen Trifluoride ~ 17,200 Used in the manufacturing of semiconductors, plasma displays and thin-film solar modules, but not included in the Kyoto Protocol.


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