When we talk about global warming and climate change, the conversation usually revolves around how to lower carbon dioxide emissions and prevent the Earth’s temperature from rising. Loss of ice sheets in the polar regions, changes in extreme weather, rising sea levels. Global warming is already affecting our planet and we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions today. But what is decarbonization?
Decarbonisation (also referred to as decarbonization) refers to the process of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from human activity in the atmosphere. The current (and optimistic) objective of decarbonisation is to, eventually, eliminate our carbon dioxide emissions. To achieve deep decarbonisation, we need to rethink how we produce and consume energy and operate a radical switch to renewables and low carbon energy sources. Decarbonisation is not a new concept. The term was first used in a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron at the One Planet Summit in 2018. Since then, it has become a buzzword for many governments around the world, who have been considering how they can reduce their carbon footrpint.
Why is decarbonization so urgent? The Paris Agreement is the first global treaty to commit all countries to combat climate change. It aims to keep global warming below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and preferably below 1.5 °C. To give a bit of context, the last time the global average temperature was 2 °C warmer, the average sea level was over 6 meters higher than today. With a 3 °C increase, cities like Miami, Shanghai, Osaka or Rio de Janeiro would sink underwater. Additionally, a total of 275 million people worldwide would need to relocate and escape the flood.
While the situations does not look very optimistic, we still have a chance to limit the global warming to 2C, or maybe even lower by 2100 with the so called Deep decarbonization. And how do we get there? The road to decarbonisation implies that industries and each of us as individuals revamp the way use energy. Of course, we cannot drop the old ways of consuming energy overnight. But the emergency of the situation mandates that we drastically accelerate our zero carbon emission transition.
Here aresome concrete steps that can contribute to decarbonization:
1) Ask yourself: “Is there a better way to do this?” A question that is always worth asking whenever something needs doing. From cooking dinner to buying a car or planning a vacation trip.
2) Replace your existing appliances with new ones that use less energy when they operate, or have no emissions during their lifetime.
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