Climate Change Is Now (Part 2)
Learn | Be Inspired | Act | Share
What are the sources of greenhouse gas emissions?
Every sector of the economy produces greenhouse gases (see the chart below) however, the biggest sources will be different for each country. As an example, transport accounts for nearly 30% of emissions in the USA (epa.gov 2019)
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and other fluorinated gases (f-gases) - these are commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning systems, asthma inhalers, amongst other uses.)
Sources of Greenhouse Gases
Electricity and Heat (25% of heat-trapping emissions) – This isn’t the electricity you use in your home, it’s emissions from large scale power plants that produce electricity and heat.
Agriculture and Forestry (20%) – Growing and producing food generates significant emissions from processes relating to animal digestion, fertiliser use, rice production and manure management. It also includes greenhouse gases resulting from deforestation - forest fires, decaying wood, emissions from tilling - ploughing the soil before sowing crops.
Industry (17.9%) – Combustion of fuels used in industry, production of steel, cement and plastics.
Transport (14%) - Mainly from oil-based fuels for road, shipping, air and rail.
Other Energy Emissions (10%) - ‘Fugitive’ emissions come from fuel flaring and leakages of methane from gas pipelines and unused coal mines. Proper maintenance and plumbing of oil and gas pipelines to prevent leaks would help curb methane emissions (Clean Air Task Force).
Buildings (6.4%) – This includes the energy used in commercial and residential buildings, including heating and air conditioning, hot water and cooking. ‘The chemicals (f-gases) used for cooling and refrigeration can escape causing further emissions.' (Source: drawdown.org)
Food Waste (6.7%) - A third of the food raised or grown does not make it from the farm or factory to being eaten. This uses up resources including water, energy, land, labour, fertilisers, seeds and financial capital and generates greenhouse gases at many of the stages – including methane when uneaten food ends up in the landfill. (Source: drawdown.org)
Green Energy Innovation We are in a time of extraordinary innovation, not to mention a time where the cost of renewable energy is collapsing. Since 2010 the cost of solar photovoltaic projects has fallen by 82%. And many new renewable projects are now cheaper than even the lowest cost coal-fired plants (Source: weforum.org and the International Renewable Energy Agnecy (IRENA). ) Wind farms A Norwegian company Wind Catching Systems have developed a prototype for a floating offshore wind power generator that could produce renewable energy for 80,000 homes. (Source: dezeen.com)
Fusion Power - the power of the future? The design below shows a prototype power plant design that is to be built in Oxfordshire, in England. The fusion demonstration plant will be used to prove the viability of Canadian energy company General Fusion’s nuclear technology. The fusion technology in its reactor, will be used to combine atoms to generate heat, mimicking the way the sun creates energy. This is different to traditional nuclear power in which atoms are split in two, known as nuclear fission. (Source: dezeen.com)
Where will you start your actions to help combat Climate Change?
There are so many simple changes that we can make, which will also benefit our air quality and take advantage of new clean and cheaper energy. For individuals. Act. Share the Message. If you make a change, your action while seeming small can be contagious. And as we know, humans are social, so let others know about the changes you are making and maybe you might start a movement…
Enjoy more plant-based meals - this would help reduce methane emissions, help reduce reforestation, not to mention being good for your heart health. You could start plant-based meals one day a week in your office, school, college or home. Meatless Mondays gives some great suggestions on how how to get started. (Mondaycampaigns.org)
Give a thought to food waste - a staggering 40% of food in the US goes to waste (nrdc.org). It’s easy to make a change. Plan meals in advance if you can; make a list before you shop; buy only what you need; and try to use up any leftovers. If you can, avoid throwing food in the bin (or trash). Composting is a better option. Food in landfills rots anaerobically (without oxygen) and this releases methane gas. (Methane is even more warming for the planet - about 84 times more so than (CO2) over 20 years.)
How about walking, cycling or using public transport where you can.
If you are planning on buying a new car, think about moving to a 100% electric model. It'll be better for air quality too!
Support Tropical Forests - Deforestation has a substantial impact on climate change, particularly tropical forests. WWF offer guidance on how to help the amazon and organisations such as Rain Forest Trust work to save rainforests through land purchases and land designations.
Aim for a carbon neutral home. There are grants available in many countries supporting the change to more energy efficient homes. Better insulation will make for a more comfortable, ambient temperature. If your home boiler has seen better days, now would be a good time to switch to a greener alternative such as air source or geothermal heat pumps.
Make the change to Led bulbs.
Be aware of home energy – how about installing an energy meter for your home? They show which appliances are using electricity (in real time). For homes with solar panels, some monitors come ‘solar ready’, allowing you to read how much electricity you are producing. And not only that, they tell you when and how that energy is used.
The One Change section of GreenFridays4Future has more easy changes where you can make a difference. If you want to do an extra deep dive into solutions for climate change, drawdown.org has done extensive work in this area. For Companies. Act. Time to Move to Net Zero (greenhouse gas emissions)
Time to set climate neutral/net zero goals.
Look to increase energy efficiency in your business, for example, install photovoltaic panels and geothermal or air source heat pumps. Find ways to save energy - even small things, like asking people to turn off computers, printers, lights, when not in use can make a difference.
Use less single use plastics - 99% of them are made from fossil fuels which cause emissions when being produced.
Manage food waste - send it for composting rather than landfill, to avoid methane emissions.
Make the change to Zero Emission Vehicles, ones running on green fuels - like renewable electricity or green hydrogen. An Post (Ireland’s postal service) is the first postal service provider in the world to reach zero carbon emission deliveries for a capital city. Way to go An Post!! Why can't more companies do this for their delivery vehicles?
Consider moving away from linear (take, make, send to waste) business models to more circular ones. These tend to be less energy intensive resulting in lower emissions.
Voter Action Governments must act decisively at the Cop 26 Conference in November. Let's lobby our representatives to have them support real changes at the conference. This isn't something we can postpone. Further, we can support calls for a global agreement on methane emissions - which arise mostly from oil and gas infrastructure (Climate Change News) Have a great weekend!