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Decarbonization: What It Is and Why It Matters?

by Jasmine Gordon

In the growing discourse about climate change, there are a lot of new and technical terms being thrown around. One of them is decarbonization, which generally refers to the reduction of carbon emissions.

However, decarbonization can be realized through the adaptation of different strategies. More importantly, understanding what it entails and how it helps the environment makes it easier for people to start reducing carbon in ways that best meet their unique circumstances.

Understanding How Decarbonization Works

Basically, decarbonization refers to the process of reducing carbon dioxide emissions released back into the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas created through different human activities. In 2020 alone, CO2 comprised almost four-fifths (79 percent) of all US greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important to note that carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas as a part of the larger carbon cycle. This natural circulation process of carbon in different forms helps regulate the levels of carbon that could be beneficial or disastrous for living beings if left unchecked. However, anthropogenic activities like burning fossil fuels release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing long-term environmental changes.

This concept also explains how decarbonization can be objectively targeted. A decarbonization program specifically aims to cut down on an organization’s carbon intensity, which refers to the grams of CO2 consumed by a company in every kilowatt per hour of electricity it uses.

It means that decarbonization covers all aspects of production and operation for a company, from manufacturing, packaging, to transport. Even the electricity used and the emissions as marine vessels deliver products through international shipping routes are included in the computation.

Therefore, to enable an impactful decarbonization process, everyone–individuals, communities, companies, and countries–must make commitments and changes to work toward lower carbon emissions. 

How Organizations Can Start Decarbonizing

Buildings alone are responsible for up to 40 percent of global emissions and energy consumption. For companies and organizations, here are a few concrete actions you can take to advance toward full decarbonization:

Insulation

By installing insulation, buildings use less energy for heating and cooling and occupants experience less thermal variability. Retrofitting buildings with further insulation is an important climate change mitigation tactic. Local and national governments and utilities often have a mix of incentives and regulations to encourage insulation efforts on new and renovated buildings as part of efficiency programs in order to reduce grid energy use and its related environmental impacts and infrastructure costs.

Switch energy sources

Another impactful effort available to most people right now is to try alternative energy sources. By investing in alternative energy like solar, you can reduce your company’s dependency on traditional energy sources like fossil fuel and natural gases, which are not sustainable and continuously harm the environment.

Rethink logistics strategies

Aside from electricity used to power up buildings, there is also energy involved in transporting raw materials and finished products. In fact, the impact of transportation on the environment is so significant that when the pandemic hit, the lockdown highlighted the sharp drop in emissions from lockdowns restricting vehicle travel–translating to an 88 percent decrease in Europe.

Logistics also covers certain product specifics such as design, packaging, and delivery to your target market. This is why, especially among small business, there has been a shift from using conventional containers and packaging materials to a more sustainable packaging solution.

Adopt green financing strategies

Green finance refers to financial tools and initiatives geared toward an environmentally-relevant outcome. It covers traditional financial products and services such as investment, insurance, and banking. For example, green bonds are financial investments that allot a percentage toward eco-friendly projects and initiatives.

Importance of Cutting Down on Carbon Footprints

The main objective of decarbonization is to lessen the stresses that human activities collectively impose upon the environment. However, it is important to note that it is becoming increasingly important for a number of other reasons such as international compliance.

Although the practice of cutting down on carbon emissions has been in place for quite some time now, the 2021 Climate Action Tracker released last May notes that the countries and large corporations’ current pledges are still not enough. More importantly, this comes after the World Economic Forum has stated that only full decarbonization is the only way to mitigate and possibly reverse the worsening climate change.

Aside from the larger picture and the ultimate endgame, businesses that adapt decarbonization and other eco-friendly initiatives also benefit from this shift. Below are some advantages for organizations doing away with their carbon footprints:

Decarbonization is a business opportunity

Although it is challenging to adopt such a drastic and massive shift, decarbonization efforts will only benefit in the long run. It prioritizes the use of newer, more energy-efficient technologies, which in turn allow businesses to reach their net-zero vision. Being environmentally responsible also offers great leverage for businesses looking to connect with more conscious markets.

Cut down on operating expenses over time

One of the most common strategies to cut down on carbon emissions is by switching to alternative energy sources. Currently, most of the energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels and natural gas. The prices of these energy sources continue to fluctuate and with it, the price of energy. By using alternative energy sources like solar or wind, organizations have a steady supply that only pays for itself in the long run.

Compliance with international standards and accords

For organizations looking to get certified and gain more recognition, decarbonization is an advantageous step. It shows your commitment to helping the environment. International accreditation bodies like the International Organization for Standardization have specific systems for minimizing environmental impact, such as the ISO 14001. 

There’s also the European Commission has developed its Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, which audits carbon emissions from about 49,000 companies coming from member towns.

Help Make a Better World

Whether you’re an individual, a member of an organization, a business owner, or maybe a policymaker, there’s a way for everyone to contribute to the ongoing fight against climate change. Decarbonization remains one of the major steps and understanding what it means and why it matters makes it more accessible and attainable for devising new strategies on how to implement it to meet unique needs and circumstances.

Similarly, you can help make the world a better place by teaming up with environmental conservation nonprofits. These grassroots organizations work directly on the ground, with people who are directly affected by climate change. As such, they are capable of developing inclusive solutions tailored to the communities they serve.

Warm Heart’s Global Biochar Carbon Removal Program

Our biochar project trains farmers how to make biochar from their crop waste, eliminating smoke and green house gases being released through open field burning.

When they bury the carbon in the soil it creates a carbon sink, in essence they create “carbon credits” that can be exchanged for cash.

This is just the beginning stage, and your participation in supporting farmer’s training to produce carbon credits will go a long ways in helping expand this program.

Helping farmers succeed can help now, today, to bring down the carbon levels needed to lead to a better future for your children.

Reduce your carbon footprint by supporting Biochar Carbon Removal to train more farmers how to turn crop waste into biochar, reduce CO2 emissions AND remove carbon by sequestering the pure carbon back into the earth.


Video games for climate action: winning solutions for the planet, Inter Press Service, Tuesday, May 31, 2022 (posted by Global Issues)


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