Behind the struggle to address global warming and climate change lies the increase in greenhouse gases (GhG) in our atmosphere.
Greenhouse Gas emissions
A greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming.
Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2Emissions.
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Global emissions by economic sector
Electricity and Heat production (25%): The burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global GhG emissions.
Agriculture, forestry and other land use (24%): GhG emissions from this sector come mostly from agriculture and deforestation. This estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in biomass, dead organic matter, and soils, which offset approximately 20% of emissions from this sector.
Industry (21%): GhG emissions from industry primarily involve fossil fuels burned on site at facilities for energy. This sector also includes emissions from chemical, metallurgical, and mineral transformation processes not associated with energy consumption and emissions from waste management activities.
Transportation (14%): GhG emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation. Almost all (95%) of the world's transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels, largely gasoline and diesel.
Buildings (6%): GhG emissions from buildings arise from onsite energy generation and burning fuels for heat in buildings or cooking in homes.
Other energy (10%): This source of greenhouse gas emissions refers to all emissions from the Energy sector which are not directly associated with electricity or heat production, such as fuel extraction, refining, processing, and transportation.
CO2 emissions increase since 1970: 90%
Emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes: 78%of the total GhG emissions increase from 1970 to 2011.
China is the top CO2 emitter with 30%of global CO2 emissions, followed by the United States (15%) and the European Union (9%).
The world technically has only 1/5of its “carbon budget” remainingin order to avoid warming the Earth more than 1.5°C