Why gas is cleaner than coal

We hear a lot about how natural gas produces much fewer carbon emissions than coal, even though both are fossil fuels, or hydrocarbons. Here’s why that is:

Hydrocarbons, as the name suggest, contain hydrogen and carbon. The hydrogen present burns with the oxygen in the air to produce water (H2O), whereas the carbon present forms carbon dioxide (CO2). Consequently, the more hydrogen present in the fuel, relative to carbon, the more water and less CO2 is produced for each unit of energy gained – and that leads to lower CO2 emissions.