What is climate change? Over the past 120 years, global average temperatures have risen by about 0.85°C as a result of human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. According to the 2018 IPCC “Global warming of 1.5°C” Special Report, a 2°C rise in the average temperature of the Earth will have unpredictable and irreversible consequences, leading to severe natural disasters.
The EU has set a 60% reduction target of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
To achieve the ambitious reduction targets, a wide range of interventions will be required by all, from individuals to the largest organisations. This transition is expected to be facilitated by regulations.
Reason for carbon footprint calculation
The purpose of carbon footprint calculation is efficient intervention planning, which is only possible with the right information. With accurate information on its carbon footprint, the company will be able to map its most prominent sources of emissions and how it performs compared to domestic or international conditions. The calculation is, in fact, a diagnosis that highlights the areas where change is most important to begin and mitigation measures are designed and implemented specifically for them.
There is a growing demand for food, animal feed and agricultural products from traceable, sustainable, low impact sources, preferably from a circular economic model. Information on product supply chain will also be available with the calculation, and it allows for comparison. In the near future, businesses using the circular economy model or able to adapt with more flexibility will offer a competitive advantage. The recently trending concept of CSR (corporate social responsibility) is being replaced by carbon neutrality and innovation.
Carbon footprint calculation
We can get information about the climate impact of a product, organisation or activity by determining its carbon footprint. It shows how much greenhouse gas emission is related to the production of a good, an organizational operation, or a process. Only when we know the carbon footprint, can we make a plan on how to reduce or avoid it. To make sure that we minimise our negative impact on climate change, we can choose to neutralise (offset) our carbon emission. Another advantage of the calculation is that the organization can create key messages and distinctive features for market players.
Carbon footprint reduction
Creating an action plan based on carbon footprint calculation is a joint planning process. The largest emission sources should be targeted with the most efficient and fastest reduction interventions. Investments in energy efficiency can be diverse, and it is often worth strengthening them through employee acceptance and training. At the end of every technology there are humans, so we have to be mindful of the importance of awareness raising and training to ensure the appropriate use of any new design. The introduction of new technologies can be stimulated by consumer or employee expectations, regulation change, investor criteria, or willingness to reduce climate risks.
CO2eq as a measure
Solar radiation absorbed by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorocarbons (HFCs) is responsible for the greenhouse effect. It is a natural phenomenon but the presence of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has greatly increased, which affects the average temperature of the earth. The greenhouse gases have different global warming potentials and also differ in how long they remain in the atmosphere. For example, the global warming potential of methane corresponds to 25 CO2, ie it has a 25-fold increase in global warming potential. Greenhouse gas emissions are usually calculated and reported in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq), which is the CO2 equivalent, or CO2eq.
Carbon neutralization as a concept
As a general rule every activity generates emissions. In our programme our focus is to highlight where the emissions come from and help alleviating them with reduction measures. At the current state some of the emissions cannot be reduced or eliminated, as even the best available technology might require energy – which might not come from renewable sources. If not possibly reduced or eliminated, this emission can be neutralized by supporting projects that sequester carbon dioxide. With this “offset” the emissions will be balanced by carbon sequestration, which will result in a climate-neutral state. One possible way of reaching this is financing the realisation of carbon sequestration projects. These have a negative carbon footprint and typically provide better climate and environmental alternatives compared to current technology.
Leaders of top companies are convinced that climate neutrality will give them a competitive advantage in terms of savings (energy savings, reduction of raw material use, less waste generated, resource optimization, etc.) and consumer perception (socially conscious reputation results in brand loyalty).