Greenhouse gas

I greenhouse gases (Greenhouse Gases, GHG) describe the gases responsible for the so-called Greenhouse effect, or the gases that make up the Carbon footprint.
They can be released into the atmosphere both naturally and by anthropogenic causes.
According to the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide (CO₂), considered the reference greenhouse gas, methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂ O) and other lesser-known gases such as H-FKW/HFC, FKW/PFC, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF³). Other greenhouse gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) or volatile hydrocarbons, excluding methane (the so-called NMVOC), are considered indirect greenhouse gases and are governed by the Montreal Protocol.

As mentioned above, carbon dioxide (CO₂) is the greenhouse gases most common and is considered the reference for others GHG. The global warming potential (GWP) of the various Greenhouse gas, is in fact expressed precisely in equivalent units of carbon dioxide (CO₂ eq): this makes it easier to compare the impact between the different gases. The GWP over a 100-year time horizon (reference period as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change - IPCC) is shown below:

Carbon dioxide CO₂ 1

Tetrafluoropropene C3H2F4 4

Methane CH₄ 28

Nitrous oxide N2O 265

Tetrafluoroethane C2H2F4 1,300

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) e.g. CClF313,900

Fluorocarbons (PFCs, HFCs) e.g. CHF3 12,400

Nitrogen trifluoride NF³ 16.100

Sulfur hexafluoride SF6 23,500

These values should be understood as follows: if one ton of SF6 were released into the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect of this ton would be as large as 23,500 tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a result, it quickly becomes clear why it is so important not to focus only on carbon dioxide (CO₂), but to reduce the concentration and production of all GHG.

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