Term: Fossil fuel

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**Origin and Importance of Fossil Fuels:**
– Oil fields are located in specific places on Earth.
– Andreas Libavius introduced the theory of fossil fuel formation in 1597.
– Caspar Neumann first used the term ‘fossil fuel’ in 1759.
– Aquatic plankton sedimentation under anoxic conditions led to petroleum and natural gas formation.
– Fossil fuels are classified as non-renewable due to long formation times.
– Global oil and gas industry net income reached US$4 trillion in 2022.
– Fossil fuels have been crucial for human development and have been used for heat production since ancient times.
– Commercial petroleum exploitation began in the 19th century.
– Fossil fuels were vital for the Industrial Revolution and transportation.

**Consumption and Environmental Impact of Fossil Fuels:**
– Over 80% of global primary energy consumption in 2022 was from fossil fuels.
– Fossil fuels are used for heat, engine power, and electricity generation.
– Large-scale burning of fossil fuels leads to serious environmental damage.
– Over 70% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 were from burning fossil fuels.
– Continued burning of fossil fuels leads to global warming and ocean acidification.
– Most air pollution deaths are attributed to fossil fuel emissions.
– Fossil fuel phase-out is estimated to save millions of lives annually.
– International policies aim to facilitate the transition to sustainable energy.

**Economic Implications and Subsidies of Fossil Fuels:**
– The fossil fuel industry is deeply integrated into the global economy.
– Transition to sustainable energy is expected to have significant economic impacts.
– Calls for a just transition address societal burdens from the fossil fuel industry.
– International agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement push for fossil fuel phase-out.
– Fossil fuel subsidies include tax breaks on consumption and production.
– Eliminating subsidies can reduce health risks of air pollution and limit climate change.
– Fossil fuel subsidies consistently amount to hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

**Environmental Effects and Health Impacts of Fossil Fuels:**
– Burning fossil fuels accelerates climate change by releasing CO2.
– Coal, oil, and derivatives contribute to atmospheric particulate matter, smog, and acid rain.
– Fossil fuels contain radioactive materials like uranium and thorium.
– Combustion of fossil fuels generates sulfuric and nitric acids causing acid rain.
– Fossil fuel combustion causes illness and death from air pollution.
– Over 8 million global air pollution deaths from fossil fuels were reported in 2018.
– Data shows coal, oil, and natural gas have higher death rates than renewables.

**Divestment, Lobbying, and Climate Policy Related to Fossil Fuels:**
– $14.6 trillion has been divested from the fossil fuel industry as of 2021.
– Fossil fuel divestment aims to reduce climate change by pressuring institutional divestment.
– Lobbying activities by the fossil fuels lobby influence governmental policy related to environmental protection and climate action.
– Fossil fuel lobbyists aim to retain subsidies and block climate change policies.
– Global forums and agreements address the role of fossil fuels in climate change mitigation.

Fossil fuel (Wikipedia)

A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon-containing material such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed naturally in the Earth's crust from the remains of dead plants and animals that is extracted and burned as a fuel. Fossil fuels may be burned to provide heat for use directly (such as for cooking or heating), to power engines (such as internal combustion engines in motor vehicles), or to generate electricity. Some fossil fuels are refined into derivatives such as kerosene, gasoline and propane before burning. The origin of fossil fuels is the anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules created by photosynthesis. The conversion from these materials to high-carbon fossil fuels typically require a geological process of millions of years.

The main fossil fuels (from top to bottom): natural gas, oil, and coal

In 2022, over 80% of primary energy consumption in the world and over 60% of its electricity was from fossil fuels. The large-scale burning of fossil fuels causes serious environmental damage. Over 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity in 2022 was CO2 from burning them. Natural processes on Earth, mostly absorption by the ocean, can remove only a small part of this CO2. Therefore, there is a net increase of many billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year. Although methane leaks are significant, the burning of fossil fuels is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming and ocean acidification. Additionally, most air pollution deaths are due to fossil fuel particulates and noxious gases. It is estimated that this costs over 3% of the global gross domestic product and that fossil fuel phase-out will save millions of lives each year.

Recognition of the climate crisis, pollution and other negative impacts caused by fossil fuels has led to a widespread policy transition and activist movement focused on ending their use in favor of sustainable energy. Because the fossil-fuel industry is so heavily integrated in the global economy and heavily subsidized, this transition is expected to have significant economic impacts. Many stakeholders argue that this change needs to be a just transition and create policy that addresses the societal burdens created by the stranded assets of the fossil fuel industry.

International policy, in the form of United Nations sustainable development goals for affordable and clean energy and climate action, as well as the Paris Climate Agreement, is designed to facilitate this transition at a global level. In 2021, the International Energy Agency concluded that no new fossil fuel extraction projects could be opened if the global economy and society wants to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and meet international goals for climate change mitigation.

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