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Greenhouse gases


07 Types of Greenhouse Gases You Should Know


The greenhouse effect is a major cause of climate change. In the last 30 years, human activities have significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions, posing global risks.

1. Understanding Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) absorb long-wave radiation (infrared) reflected from the Earth’s surface. They trap heat, causing the greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse gases

Main greenhouse gases include CO₂, CH₄, N₂O, O₃, water vapor, and CFCs. These gases retain heat, maintaining Earth’s temperature at about 14°C. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have emitted large amounts of GHGs, disrupting this balance.

Greenhouse gases differ from oxygen and nitrogen. They get trapped in the atmosphere, forming a thick layer around Earth. They can’t escape, causing Earth to warm and triggering climate change. GHGs have long lifespans: methane lasts 10 years, nitrogen 120 years, and carbon 1000 years.

2. 7 Greenhouse Gases Causing the Greenhouse Effect

Here are the leading gases contributing to the greenhouse effect:

♦ CO₂ – Carbon Dioxide: CO₂ rapidly and significantly causes the greenhouse effect. It is released from human and animal respiration, plant respiration, volcanic eruptions, industrial activities, and fossil fuel combustion.

♦ CH₄ – Methane: Methane is produced during livestock farming, waste decomposition, rice cultivation, and oil and gas production.

♦ N₂O – Nitrous Oxide: Nitrous oxide comes from transportation, waste burning, wastewater treatment, agricultural practices, and industrial activities.

♦ PFCs – Perfluorocarbon Compounds: PFCs were used as insulators, refrigerants, and in waterproof fabrics. They have been phased out since 2015.

♦ HFCs – Các Hợp Chất Hydrofluorocarbon: HFCs are used as refrigerants and in fire extinguishers. They will be phased out by 2050 under the Montreal Protocol.

♦ SF₆ – Sulfur Hexafluoride: SF₆ is used as a non-conductive medium. It is often utilized in textile and dye manufacturing.

♦ NF₃ – Nitrogen Trifluoride:NF₃ is prevalent in the semiconductor industry.

Among these gases, CO₂, CH₄, and N₂O are the main ones. The others have a smaller proportion. Below are the Global Warming Potential (GWP) indices of some GHGs. GWP reflects the global warming impact of GHGs per unit mass.

SF₆ has the highest GWP at 22,800, while CO₂ has a GWP of 1. However, CO₂ is the most abundant, with current emissions averaging 54 billion tons/year, or about 1,700 tons/second, the highest ever. This rise is a leading cause of unprecedented global warming, increasing by more than 0.2°C per decade.

3. Non-Greenhouse Gases

The main components of Earth’s atmosphere are nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, which are not greenhouse gases. These substances are mostly unaffected by infrared radiation.

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4. Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Global GHG emissions are divided into the following sectors:

4.1. Energy Sector

In 2019, the energy sector emitted 76% of global GHGs. Energy production and distribution worldwide release large amounts of GHGs. This includes emissions from heat and power production, transportation fuels, fertilizers, consumer goods, buildings, and gas leaks.

4.2. Agriculture Sector

Agriculture and land-use change contribute 12% of emissions. Plants and nutrient-rich soil tend to absorb more CO₂ than they emit. But when forests are replaced by farms, roads, and buildings, stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

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4.3. Industrial Sector

The industrial sector is one of the fastest-growing GHG emitters, increasing by 203% since 1990. Emissions come from chemical, cement, and material production like rubber, fabric, plastic, and steel.

Greenhouse gases

4.4. Waste Sector

3.3% of GHG emissions come from waste sectors such as solid waste landfills, wastewater treatment, sewage treatment, and manufacturing.

Greenhouse gases


The greenhouse effect and greenhouse gas emissions are warming Earth, causing severe climate change. We need to develop a low-carbon economy, reduce net emissions, and transition to green, clean energy. Solutions like planting more trees and using biofuels instead of fossil fuels are also essential.



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