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What is Carbon Footprint? And How We Can Minimize its Impact?

Introduction

The term carbon footprint is the new buzzword for environmental activists, big businesses and organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. This article will provide you with comprehensive knowledge about what carbon footprint is and how smart energy management solutions can help reduce carbon footprint.

 

What are Carbon Footprints?

Carbon footprints are the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted directly or indirectly from organisational levels that include various sectors and individual levels. Several gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases are greenhouse gasses, but carbon dioxide is the major contributor to carbon footprint.

 

What are the Major Causes of Carbon Footprints?

 

 

  • Energy Consumption: The fuels used for the production of energy i.e. petroleum products and coal are major contributors to carbon footprints. This energy is the driving force of businesses, homes and industrial complexes.
  • Industrial Activities: Industrial activities like manufacturing, construction and mining require high energy-intensive processes making them major sources of carbon footprints.
  • Transportation: Emissions from private and public transport vehicles, airlines and the shipping industry also contribute to the carbon footprints.
  • Agriculture and Allied Sectors: Traditional easy of growing rice along with the meat and dairy industries are the major producers of methane. Practices like stubble burning also produce huge amounts of carbon dioxide which further increases the carbon footprints.
  • Deforestation: Deforestation is harmful at two levels. While some forests are removed for furniture and construction industries, most of them are burnt to clear land. This practice contributes to more carbon footprints and removes the trees from the ecosystem, which absorb carbon dioxide for air.
  • Waste Management: In most of the cities of the world, one can witness huge piles of landfills where organic waste is dumped. The lack of solid waste management mechanisms leads to methane production contributing to the cities’ carbon footprints.

 

How does an increase in Carbon Footprint affect the Environment?

  • Climate Change: This new term is more inclusive than the previous term i.e. Global Warming as increased carbon footprints not only lead to rising global temperatures but also extreme weather changes in different parts of the globe that include heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, tornadoes and well as extreme winters.
  • Melting of Polar Ice: The melting of the polar ice exposes the biomass trapped under the ice which increases the carbon footprints in the environment. Along with this, it also raises the sea levels which in endangering many island nations as well as highly populated coastal regions.
  • Loss of Biodiversity: While human activities like deforestation increase carbon footprints, they also decrease the biodiversity of the plants and animals on Earth. The increase in carbon dioxide levels also increases the acidity of the oceans which directly affects marine life.
  • Long-Term Impacts: The disruption in the crop cycles and food chains will lead to long-term impacts on food security, displacements of vulnerable populations and social unrest.

 

What are the different types of carbon emissions?

  • Direct Carbon Emissions: These emissions are released by sources that are owned by individuals or organisations. They include:
    1. Burning of fuels in vehicles, machinery or establishments
    2. Traditional agricultural practices rice farming and livestock release methane
    3. Industrial chemical processes that release carbon dioxide
    4. Deforestation that releases carbon stored in trees
  • Indirect Carbon Emissions: These emissions are released by sources that may not be owned by individuals or organisations. They include
    1. Emissions that are the result of production of electricity with coal or gas
    2. Emissions that are released from the generation of heat or steam at a centralised level and then transferred to individual entities

 

What are some success stories in reducing carbon emissions globally?

  • Adoption of Renewable Energy: Germany has shifted to clean energy production by solar and wind energy. While Sweden has kept 2045 as the target year completely stopping fossil fuels and using wind energy as a major source.
  • Green Transportation Initiatives: Norway Aims to reduce transport emissions by 50% by 2030. Oslo is going to be the first major city by 2030 to achieve zero carbon footprints.
  • Carbon Pricing and Emissions Trading: The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EUETS) is helping to reduce carbon footprints across the EU. The British Columbia state in Canada introduced a carbon tax in 2008 that has significantly reduced carbon footprints.

 

What should we take away from this discussion on carbon footprints?

The reduction of carbon footprints is essential to the survival of not only humans but all other species on the planet. While international organisations and governments should work towards reducing carbon footprints, individuals should also contribute by adopting smart devices to monitor electricity usage at homes and renewable and recycled materials whenever possible.

 

What are the ways that can help in reducing carbon footprints?

  • Renewable Energy Sources: Switching to renewable energy sources like solar and wind turbines can bring a major reduction in the overall carbon footprints of individual entities as well as organisations.
  • Sustainable Transportation: Promotion and strengthening of public transportation, shifting to electric or hybrid vehicles, using biofuels and encouraging online meetings are some policy-level decisions that will reduce carbon footprints.
  • Food Production and Consumption: Changing the ways of cultivating crops and limiting the consumption of meat and dairy can also help in the reduction of carbon footprints.
  • Using Recycled Products: Using recycled products will reduce carbon footprints released by the production of paper, plastic, glass, and metals and will lead to sustainable growth.

 

What are some success stories in reducing carbon emissions globally?

  • Adoption of Renewable Energy: Germany has shifted to clean energy production by solar and wind energy. While Sweden has kept 2045 as the target year completely stopping fossil fuels and using wind energy as a major source.
  • Green Transportation Initiatives: Norway Aims to reduce transport emissions by 50% by 2030. Oslo is going to be the first major city by 2030 to achieve zero carbon footprints.
  • Carbon Pricing and Emissions Trading: The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EUETS) is helping to reduce carbon footprints across the EU. The British Columbia state in Canada introduced a carbon tax in 2008 that has significantly reduced carbon footprints.

 

What should we take away from this discussion on carbon footprints?

The reduction of carbon footprints is essential to the survival of not only humans but all other species on the planet. While international organisations and governments should work towards reducing carbon footprints, individuals should also contribute by adopting smart devices to monitor electricity usage at homes and renewable and recycled materials whenever possible.

 

How can we manage and track our carbon footprint?

 

 

  • Carbon Accounting Tools: Some dedicated sources and online platforms can be used to calculate, assess and track the carbon footprints released by individuals, organisations or entire nations as a whole.
  • Energy Audits: The data generated from the accounting of carbon footprints can be used to conduct periodic audits to identify how the energy is being used and the areas where it is being wasted. The process involves consumption patterns, areas for potential improvement and suggesting ways to reduce carbon footprints.
  • Smart Energy Management Solutions: There are appliances like LED lighting sources that use a fraction of electricity as compared to incandescent bulbs. Automated lighting and air conditioning systems and smart devices to monitor electricity usage at homes like Emerald can also be used to track the amount of energy used.

 

What are the ways that can help in reducing carbon footprints?

  • Renewable Energy Sources: Switching to renewable energy sources like solar and wind turbines can bring a major reduction in the overall carbon footprints of individual entities as well as organisations.
  • Sustainable Transportation: Promotion and strengthening of public transportation, shifting to electric or hybrid vehicles, using biofuels and encouraging online meetings are some policy-level decisions that will reduce carbon footprints.
  • Food Production and Consumption: Changing the ways of cultivating crops and limiting the consumption of meat and dairy can also help in the reduction of carbon footprints.
  • Using Recycled Products: Using recycled products will reduce carbon footprints released by the production of paper, plastic, glass, and metals and will lead to sustainable growth.

 

What are some success stories in reducing carbon emissions globally?

  • Adoption of Renewable Energy: Germany has shifted to clean energy production by solar and wind energy. While Sweden has kept 2045 as the target year completely stopping fossil fuels and using wind energy as a major source.
  • Green Transportation Initiatives: Norway Aims to reduce transport emissions by 50% by 2030. Oslo is going to be the first major city by 2030 to achieve zero carbon footprints.
  • Carbon Pricing and Emissions Trading: The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EUETS) is helping to reduce carbon footprints across the EU. The British Columbia state in Canada introduced a carbon tax in 2008 that has significantly reduced carbon footprints.

 

What should we take away from this discussion on carbon footprints?

The reduction of carbon footprints is essential to the survival of not only humans but all other species on the planet. While international organisations and governments should work towards reducing carbon footprints, individuals should also contribute by adopting smart devices to monitor electricity usage at homes and renewable and recycled materials whenever possible.

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