Key concepts to understand climate change

Do you know what renewable energies, fossil fuels and greenhouse gases are?


A sign says “Cambiar o no cambiar el clima, no hay ninguna duda” during a demonstration by the Climate Movement in Washington, United States.

A denialist is a person who denies the existence of climate change. Denialists believe that the global temperature increase is due to natural causes. However, most of the international scientific community affirms that climate change is a reality and that humans are responsible.

2Greenhouse gases (GHG)

Some activities, such as production in factories, generate the type of gases that accelerate climate change. (GYI)

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) absorb solar energy that reaches our planet and retain it in the atmosphere, making the planet a warm place. These gases exist naturally, but the problem is that some of our activities (production in factories, generating energy, travelling by car or plane) emit even more of these gases into the atmosphere, which causes the temperature of the planet to increase too much.

3Fossil fuels

A natural gas extraction platform in the Norwegian Sea.

Fossil fuels are materials that were formed millions of years ago from the remains of plants and animals. These organic remains were deposited in seas, lakes and other bodies of water and, after thousands and thousands of years of decomposition, turned into oil, coal or natural gas. Fossil fuels pollute a lot and are non-renewable sources of energy, which means that one day they will end.

4Renewable energies

Chinese workers walk on an installation of solar panels on the roof of a building in Wuhan, China.

Renewable energies such as hydraulic energy (produced with water), wind (with wind) or solar (with sunlight) are unlimited and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The name comes from the fact that, unlike fossil fuels, they are considered inexhaustible and can be regenerated by natural means.

5Direct emissions

The use of vehicles generates greenhouse gas emissions.(iStock)

When calculating the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by an activity, there is often a difference between direct and indirect emissions. Direct emissions are those directly produced by a person or company, for example: by driving a vehicle or using machinery that consumes fuel to operate.

6Indirect emissions

On the other hand, indirect emissions are those that we do not produce ourselves, but are the GHGs emitted in order to manufacture the products or energy that we consume. For example: buying a sweater does not pollute, but if the sweater was brought by plane from Australia, the indirect emissions would be very high.



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