Last updated:
May 24, 2024

CO2, GHG, and CO2e

What is the difference between CO2, GHG, and CO2e?

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) that is produced both naturally and through through human activities. Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) is a measure that is used to standardise and compare GHGs.

What is CO2?

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that is produced both naturally and through through human activities. Despite being a vital component of life on earth, CO2 is also a major contributor to climate change - especially due to emissions from human activities. The primary source of human CO2 emissions comes from the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, making it the largest contributor to global warming, accounting for over 75% of global GHG emissions.

CO2 and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2) methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases. Each of these gases possesses distinct properties with different effects on the climate. Methane, for example, has a much higher heat-trapping ability compared to CO2, whereas CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a significantly longer period than other greenhouse gases.


CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, is a measure that is used to compare the emissions of various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential. This standardised measure allows for a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of various emissions, which helps to better understand and mitigate the effects of global warming.

Converting GHGs to CO2

The conversion of different GHGs to CO2e involves multiplying the quantity of the GHG in question by its Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a measure of how much heat a GHG traps in the atmosphere compared to CO2. For example, methane is 28-36 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period. This calculation provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of GHG emissions.

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