Global warming potential

The global warming potential (GWP) of a greenhouse gas is a measure of its contribution to global warming relative to that of a corresponding amount of a reference gas, carbon dioxide. The concept was developed as a tool, following the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, so that nations and industries could compare the cost effectiveness of different mitigation measures (IPCC, 2007). The calculation of the GWP of N2O or any other greenhouse gas requires knowledge of its contribution to climate change from emissions over time. There are a number of complications associated with this calculation that cannot be covered here (the reader is referred to IPCC, 2007, for details), and the simplified method commonly used is to integrate the global mean radiative forcing over time of a pulse emission of 1kg of a compound (i) relative to that of 1kg of CO2 (IPCC, 1990). Thus the GWP is defined by:

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