Fossil fuel

Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries
A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK
An oil well in the Gulf of Mexico
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observational data is in red, with all data showing a 5 year moving average.
In 2020, renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity for the first time.

Hydrocarbon-containing material formed naturally in the earth's crust from the remains of dead plants and animals that is extracted and burned as a fuel.

- Fossil fuel
Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries

500 related topics

Relevance

Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average

Climate change

Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average
Change in average surface air temperature since the industrial revolution, plus drivers for that change. Human activity has caused increased temperatures, with natural forces adding some variability.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observed data is in red.
Drivers of climate change from 1850–1900 to 2010–2019. There was no significant contribution from internal variability or solar and volcanic drivers.
concentrations over the last 800,000 years as measured from ice cores (blue/green) and directly (black)
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
The rate of global tree cover loss has approximately doubled since 2001, to an annual loss approaching an area the size of Italy.
Sea ice reflects 50% to 70% of incoming solar radiation while the dark ocean surface only reflects 6%, so melting sea ice is a self-reinforcing feedback.
Projected global surface temperature changes relative to 1850–1900, based on CMIP6 multi-model mean changes.
The sixth IPCC Assessment Report projects changes in average soil moisture that can disrupt agriculture and ecosystems. A reduction in soil moisture by one standard deviation means that average soil moisture will approximately match the ninth driest year between 1850 and 1900 at that location.
Historical sea level reconstruction and projections up to 2100 published in 2017 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (2021) projects that extreme weather will be progressively more common as the Earth warms.
Scenarios of global greenhouse gas emissions. If all countries achieve their current Paris Agreement pledges, average warming by 2100 would still significantly exceed the maximum 2 °C target set by the Agreement.
Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
Economic sectors with more greenhouse gas contributions have a greater stake in climate change policies.
Most emissions have been absorbed by carbon sinks, including plant growth, soil uptake, and ocean uptake (2020 Global Carbon Budget).
Since 2000, rising emissions in China and the rest of world have surpassed the output of the United States and Europe.
Per person, the United States generates at a far faster rate than other primary regions.
Academic studies of scientific consensus reflect that the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science.
Data has been cherry picked from short periods to falsely assert that global temperatures are not rising. Blue trendlines show short periods that mask longer-term warming trends (red trendlines). Blue dots show the so-called global warming hiatus.
The 2017 People's Climate March took place in hundreds of locations. Shown: the Washington, D.C. march, protesting policies of then-U.S. President Trump.
Tyndall's ratio spectrophotometer (drawing from 1861) measured how much infrared radiation was absorbed and emitted by various gases filling its central tube.
alt=Underwater photograph of branching coral that is bleached white|Ecological collapse. Bleaching has damaged the Great Barrier Reef and threatens reefs worldwide.<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/coral-reef-risk-outlook/|title=Coral Reef Risk Outlook|access-date=4 April 2020|publisher=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|quote=At present, local human activities, coupled with past thermal stress, threaten an estimated 75 percent of the world's reefs. By 2030, estimates predict more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by local human activities, warming, and acidification, with nearly 60% facing high, very high, or critical threat levels.}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of evening in a valley settlement. The skyline in the hills beyond is lit up red from the fires.|Extreme weather. Drought and high temperatures worsened the 2020 bushfires in Australia.<ref>{{harvnb|Carbon Brief, 7 January|2020}}.</ref>
alt=The green landscape is interrupted by a huge muddy scar where the ground has subsided.|Arctic warming. Permafrost thaws undermine infrastructure and release methane, a greenhouse gas.
alt=An emaciated polar bear stands atop the remains of a melting ice floe.|Habitat destruction. Many arctic animals rely on sea ice, which has been disappearing in a warming Arctic.<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC AR5 WG2 Ch28|2014|p=1596|ps=: "Within 50 to 70 years, loss of hunting habitats may lead to elimination of polar bears from seasonally ice-covered areas, where two-thirds of their world population currently live."}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of a large area of forest. The green trees are interspersed with large patches of damaged or dead trees turning purple-brown and light red.|Pest propagation. Mild winters allow more pine beetles to survive to kill large swaths of forest.<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/climatechange.htm|title=What a changing climate means for Rocky Mountain National Park|publisher=National Park Service|access-date=9 April 2020}}</ref>
Environmental migration. Sparser rainfall leads to desertification that harms agriculture and can displace populations. Shown: Telly, Mali (2008).<ref>{{harvnb|Serdeczny|Adams|Baarsch|Coumou|2016}}.</ref>
Agricultural changes. Droughts, rising temperatures, and extreme weather negatively impact agriculture. Shown: Texas, US (2013).<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC SRCCL Ch5|2019|pp=439, 464}}.</ref>
Tidal flooding. Sea-level rise increases flooding in low-lying coastal regions. Shown: Venice, Italy (2004).<ref name="NOAAnuisance">{{cite web|url=http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/nuisance-flooding.html |title=What is nuisance flooding? |author=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |access-date=April 8, 2020}}</ref>
Storm intensification. Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr (2007) is an example of catastrophic flooding from increased rainfall.<ref>{{harvnb|Kabir|Khan|Ball|Caldwell|2016}}.</ref>
Heat wave intensification. Events like the June 2019 European heat wave are becoming more common.<ref>{{harvnb|Van Oldenborgh|Philip|Kew|Vautard|2019}}.</ref>

Burning fossil fuels for energy use creates most of these emissions.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas

Ocean acidification

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas
Here is a detailed image of the full carbon cycle
NOAA provides evidence for the upwelling of "acidified" water onto the Continental Shelf. In the figure above, note the vertical sections of (A) temperature, (B) aragonite saturation, (C) pH, (D) DIC, and (E) p on transect line 5 off Pt. St. George, California. The potential density surfaces are superimposed on the temperature section. The 26.2 potential density surface delineates the location of the first instance in which the undersaturated water is upwelled from depths of 150 to 200 m onto the shelf and outcropping at the surface near the coast. The red dots represent sample locations.
Ocean Acidification Infographic
The cycle between the atmosphere and the ocean
Distribution of (A) aragonite and (B) calcite saturation depth in the global oceans
This map shows changes in the aragonite saturation level of ocean surface waters between the 1880s and the most recent decade (2006–2015). Aragonite is a form of calcium carbonate that many marine animals use to build their skeletons and shells. The lower the saturation level, the more difficult it is for organisms to build and maintain their skeletons and shells. A negative change represents a decrease in saturation.
Here is detailed diagram of the carbon cycle within the ocean
Bjerrum plot: Change in carbonate system of seawater from ocean acidification.
Shells of pteropods dissolve in increasingly acidic conditions caused by increased amounts of atmospheric
A normally-protective shell made thin, fragile and transparent by acidification
Drivers of hypoxia and ocean acidification intensification in upwelling shelf systems. Equatorward winds drive the upwelling of low dissolved oxygen (DO), high nutrient, and high dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) water from above the oxygen minimum zone. Cross-shelf gradients in productivity and bottom water residence times drive the strength of DO (DIC) decrease (increase) as water transits across a productive continental shelf.
Demonstrator calling for action against ocean acidification at the People's Climate March (2017).
Ocean acidification: mean seawater pH. Mean seawater pH is shown based on in-situ measurements of pH from the Aloha station.
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface pH
Present day alkalinity
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Vertical inventory of "present day" (1990s) anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Change in surface {{chem|CO|3|2-}} ion from the 1700s to the 1990s
Present day DIC
Pre-Industrial DIC
A NOAA (AOML) in situ {{chem|CO|2}} concentration sensor (SAMI-CO2), attached to a Coral Reef Early Warning System station, utilized in conducting ocean acidification studies near coral reef areas
A NOAA (PMEL) moored autonomous {{chem|CO|2}} buoy used for measuring {{chem|CO|2}} concentration and ocean acidification studies

The main cause of ocean acidification is human burning of fossil fuels.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

World energy supply and consumption

Global production and preparation of fuel, generation of electricity, energy transport and energy consumption.

Global production and preparation of fuel, generation of electricity, energy transport and energy consumption.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
World energy mix, 1965 to 2020
Primary energy sources are transformed by the energy sector to generate energy carriers.

Worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels was 38 gigatons in 2019.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

Energy transition

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
An example of a long-term historic energy transition: share of primary energy by source in Portugal
Wind Turbine Total Costs
A booth for the Citizens' Climate Lobby, at a rally for science in Minnesota, 2018.
Global energy consumption by source.
Global energy consumption by source (in %).
Austria electricity supply by source
Denmark electricity generation by source
Electricity production in France.
Market share of Germany's power generation 2014
Primary energy mix in the United Kingdom over time, differentiated by energy source (in % of the total energy consumption)
U.S. energy consumption by source.
Timeline of commissioned and decommissioned nuclear capacity since the 1950s. Positive numbers show the commissioned capacity for each year; negative numbers show the decommissioned capacity for each year.
6 advantages of an energy transition (for example in Europe) - Energy Atlas 2018

Since fossil fuels are the largest single source of carbon emissions, the quantity that can be produced is limited by the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep global warming below 1.5 °C.

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot

Internal combustion engine

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot
Reciprocating engine of a car
Diesel generator for backup power
Bare cylinder block of a V8 engine
Piston, piston ring, gudgeon pin and connecting rod
Valve train above a Diesel engine cylinder head. This engine uses rocker arms but no pushrods.
Engine block seen from below. The cylinders, oil spray nozzle and half of the main bearings are clearly visible.
Diagram showing the operation of a 4-stroke SI engine. Labels:
1 ‐ Induction
2 ‐ Compression
3 ‐ Power
4 ‐ Exhaust
Diagram of a crankcase scavenged 2-stroke engine in operation
Diagram of uniflow scavenging
Bosch magneto
Points and coil ignition
Diagram of an engine using pressurized lubrication
P-V diagram for the ideal Diesel cycle. The cycle follows the numbers 1–4 in clockwise direction.
Turbofan jet engine
Turbine power plant
Brayton cycle
The Wankel rotary cycle. The shaft turns three times for each rotation of the rotor around the lobe and once for each orbital revolution around the eccentric shaft.
One-cylinder gasoline engine, c. 1910
Electric starter as used in automobiles

ICEs are typically powered by fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

Climate change mitigation

Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming and its related effects.

Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming and its related effects.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
Multiple pathways exist to limit climate change to 1.5 °C or 2 °C in the context of the temperature goals set forth in the Paris Agreement.
Global greenhouse gas emissions by sector, 2016. For climate change mitigation goals, pathways and mechanisms to effectively transform all sectors have to be developed and implemented at a rapid rate.
Global CO2 emissions by region from fossil fuels combustion, 2019 (not accounting for extradomestic production / imports-footprints)
The 150 MW Andasol solar power station is a commercial parabolic trough solar thermal power plant, located in Spain. The Andasol plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy so that it can continue generating electricity for 7.5 hours after the sun has stopped shining.
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 megawatt (MW) nameplate capacity, wind farm in the US state of Oregon, each turbine is a nameplate 2 or 2.5 MW electricity generator.
The 22,500 MW nameplate capacity Three Gorges Dam in the People's Republic of China, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.
A comparison of prices over time for energy from nuclear fission and from other sources. Over the presented time, thousands of wind turbines and similar were built on assembly lines in mass production resulting in an economy of scale.
Sketch of a possible super grid. The red squares represent the total surfaces needed for solar collectors of Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP) plants to provide the present electricity demands.
In the European Investment Bank Climate Survey EU citizens said that in Europe, energy should be the most prioritised area of action against climate change.
About 58% of emissions have been absorbed by carbon sinks, including plant growth, soil uptake, and ocean uptake (2020 Global Carbon Budget).
World protected area map with total percentage of each country under protection, where countries in lighter colors have more protected land
Transferring land rights to indigenous inhabitants is argued to efficiently conserve forests.
Helping existing roots and tree stumps regrow even in long deforested areas is argued to be more efficient than planting trees. Lack of legal ownership to trees by locals is the biggest obstacle preventing regrowth.
(A) Untrawled seamount and (B) a trawled seamount. Bottom trawling has destroyed many coastal habitats, a significant sink of carbon.
Schematic showing both terrestrial and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a large point source, for example burning natural gas
Alstom Citadis (left) and Eurotram (right) trams in Strasbourg on grassed track
Battery electric bus in Montreal
Outside unit of an air source heat pump
Managed grazing methods are argued to be able to restore grasslands, thereby significantly decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels.
A matrix of the progress in the adoption of management practices and approaches
Bicycles have almost no carbon footprint compared to cars, and canal transport may represent a positive option for certain types of freight in the 21st century.
Carbon emission trade - allowance prices from 2008
The European Investment Bank's Investment Survey 2020 found that firms with active climate policies invest more in energy efficiency.
The European Investment Bank's Investment Survey also found that Western and Northern European firms are more likely to invest in climate mitigation.
More firms plan to invest in climate change mitigation, specifically focusing on low-carbon sectors.
Physical risks of climate change top the list of business concerns for US and EU firms.
Since 1950, world population has tripled.
The emissions of the richest 1% of the global population account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50%.
A photo of the September 2019 climate strikes
A typology of discourses aimed at delaying climate change mitigation
Emission responsibility allotments by country/region and industry

Fossil fuels emit most carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas as a whole.

The greenhouse effect of solar radiation on the Earth's surface caused by emission of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gas

Gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.

Gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect of solar radiation on the Earth's surface caused by emission of greenhouse gases.
Radiative forcing (warming influence) of different contributors to climate change through 2019, as reported in the Sixth IPCC assessment report.
Atmospheric absorption and scattering at different wavelengths of electromagnetic waves. The largest absorption band of carbon dioxide is not far from the maximum in the thermal emission from ground, and it partly closes the window of transparency of water; hence its major effect.
Concentrations of carbon monoxide in the Spring and Fall of 2000 in the lower atmosphere showing a range from about 390 parts per billion (dark brown pixels), to 220 parts per billion (red pixels), to 50 parts per billion (blue pixels).
Increasing water vapor in the stratosphere at Boulder, Colorado
Schmidt et al. (2010) analysed how individual components of the atmosphere contribute to the total greenhouse effect. They estimated that water vapor accounts for about 50% of Earth's greenhouse effect, with clouds contributing 25%, carbon dioxide 20%, and the minor greenhouse gases and aerosols accounting for the remaining 5%. In the study, the reference model atmosphere is for 1980 conditions. Image credit: NASA.
The radiative forcing (warming influence) of long-lived atmospheric greenhouse gases has accelerated, almost doubling in 40 years.
Top: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured in the atmosphere and reflected in ice cores. Bottom: The amount of net carbon increase in the atmosphere, compared to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel.
400,000 years of ice core data
Recent year-to-year increase of atmospheric.
Major greenhouse gas trends.
The US, China and Russia have cumulatively contributed the greatest amounts of since 1850.

The vast majority of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions come from combustion of fossil fuels, principally coal, petroleum (including oil) and natural gas, with additional contributions from cement manufacturing, fertilizer production, deforestation and other changes in land use.

The flames caused as a result of a fuel undergoing combustion (burning)

Combustion

High-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke.

High-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke.

The flames caused as a result of a fuel undergoing combustion (burning)
Air pollution abatement equipment provides combustion control for industrial processes.
The combustion of methane, a hydrocarbon.
Colourized gray-scale composite image of the individual frames from a video of a backlit fuel droplet burning in microgravity.
A general scheme of polymer combustion
Antoine Lavoisier conducting an experiment related to combustion generated by amplified sun light.

The thermal energy produced from combustion of either fossil fuels such as coal or oil, or from renewable fuels such as firewood, is harvested for diverse uses such as cooking, production of electricity or industrial or domestic heating.

A woman in rural Rajasthan, India, collects firewood. The use of wood and other polluting fuels for cooking causes millions of deaths each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Sustainable energy

Sustainable if it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Sustainable if it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

A woman in rural Rajasthan, India, collects firewood. The use of wood and other polluting fuels for cooking causes millions of deaths each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution.
World map showing where people without access to electricity lived in 2016⁠—mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent
Global energy usage is highly unequal. High income countries such as the United States and Canada use 100 times as much energy per capita as some of the least developed countries in Africa.
Growth of renewables was 45% larger in 2020 compared to 2019, including a 90% rise in global wind capacity additions (green) and a 23% expansion of new solar photovoltaic installations (yellow).
A photovoltaic power station in California, United States
Wind turbines in Xinjiang, China
Guri Dam, a hydroelectric dam in Venezuela
Cooling towers at a geothermal power plant in Larderello, Italy
Kenyan dairy farmer lighting a biogas lamp. Biogas produced from biomass is a renewable energy source that can be burned for cooking or light.
A sugarcane plantation to produce ethanol in Brazil
Since 1985, the proportion of electricity generated from low-carbon sources has increased only slightly. Advances in deploying renewables have been mostly offset by declining shares of nuclear power.
Energy use in industry caused 24.2% of all GHG emissions in 2016. Energy use in buildings and transport caused 17.5% and 16.2% of emissions, respectively. Another 9.5% of emissions came from other energy uses and 5.8% were fugitive emissions from the production of fossil fuels.
Buildings in the Solar Settlement at Schlierberg, Germany, produce more energy than they consume. They incorporate rooftop solar panels and are built for maximum energy efficiency.
Battery storage facility
The outdoor section of a heat pump. In contrast to oil and gas boilers, they use electricity and are highly efficient. As such, electrification of heating can significantly reduce emissions.
Utility cycling infrastructure, such as this bike lane in Vancouver, encourages sustainable transport.
Passive cooling features, such as these windcatcher towers in Iran, bring cool air into buildings without any use of energy.
For cooking, electric induction stoves are one of the most energy-efficient and safest options.
Several countries and the European Union have committed to dates for all new cars to be zero-emissions vehicles.
Electrified heat and transport are key areas of investment for the renewable energy transition.

Fossil fuels provide 85% of the world's energy consumption and the energy system is responsible for 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fast carbon cycle showing the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons (gigatons) per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white are stored carbon. The effects of the slow carbon cycle, such as volcanic and tectonic activity are not included.

Carbon cycle

Biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

Biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

Fast carbon cycle showing the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons (gigatons) per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white are stored carbon. The effects of the slow carbon cycle, such as volcanic and tectonic activity are not included.
Detail of anthropogenic carbon flows, showing cumulative mass in gigatons during years 1850-2018 (left) and the annual mass average during 2009-2018 (right).
CO2 concentrations over the last 800,000 years as measured from ice cores (blue/green) and directly (black)
Amount of carbon stored in Earth's various terrestrial ecosystems, in gigatonnes.
A portable soil respiration system measuring soil CO2 flux.
Diagram showing relative sizes (in gigatonnes) of the main storage pools of carbon on Earth. Cumulative changes (thru year 2014) from land use and emissions of fossil carbon are included for comparison.
Carbon is tetrahedrally bonded to oxygen
Knowledge about carbon in the core can be gained by analysing shear wave velocities
Schematic representation of the overall perturbation of the global carbon cycle caused by anthropogenic activities, averaged from 2010 to 2019.
The pathway by which plastics enter the world's oceans.
Carbon stored on land in vegetation and soils is aggregated into a single stock ct. Ocean mixed layer carbon, cm, is the only explicitly modelled ocean stock of carbon; though to estimate carbon cycle feedbacks the total ocean carbon is also calculated.
Epiphytes on electric wires. This kind of plant takes both CO{{sub|2}} and water from the atmosphere for living and growing.
CO{{sub|2}} in Earth's atmosphere if half of global-warming emissions are not absorbed.<ref name="NASA-20151112-ab" /><ref name="NASA-20151112b" /><ref name="NYT-20151110" /><ref name="AP-20151109" /> (NASA computer simulation).

The sediments, including fossil fuels, freshwater systems, and non-living organic material.