Natural gas (also called fossil gas; sometimes just gas), is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium. It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas. Natural gas is a fossil fuel.
Natural gas is a non-renewable hydrocarbon used as a source of energy for heating, cooking, and electricity generation. It is also used as a fuel for vehicles and as a chemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals.
The mining and consumption of natural gas is a major and growing driver of climate change. It is a potent greenhouse gas itself when released into the atmosphere, and creates carbon dioxide during oxidation. Natural gas can be efficiently burned to generate heat and electricity; emitting less waste and toxins at the point of use relative to other fossil and biomass fuels. However, gas venting and flaring, along with unintended fugitive emissions throughout the supply chain, can result in a similar carbon footprint overall.