It’s likely that you’ve been reading media headlines featuring topics such as “decarbonization”, “carbon-free future”, or “net zero emissions” quite frequently this year. But what exactly do these terms mean, specifically “decarbonization”? The notion of decarbonization relates to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released into the atmosphere in order to address global warming and meet world climate goals.
Global warming is the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century primarily due to the greenhouse gases released. The main GHGs and their sources (causing the most significant climate impact) include:
- Carbon Dioxide – Primarily due to burning of fossil fuels (i.e. cement production and destruction of trees, reducing CO2 absorption)
- Methane – Which is tied to the production and transport of fossil fuels, livestock, and organic decay
- Nitrous Oxide – Which is emitted when burning fossil fuels, fertilizer, and other industrial processes
- Fluorinated gases (examples: hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) – Due to various industrial processes, and household products including refrigerators
The 2015 Paris Agreement
In 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever legally binding global climate deal, The Paris Agreement. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to even limit it to 1.5°C. Essentially, the nations of the world have agreed to “decarbonize” in order to mitigate climate change.
According to a recent PATHWAYS analysis demonstrating how it is technically feasible to achieve an 80% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 in the United States, deep decarbonization requires three fundamental changes in the U.S. energy system:
- Highly efficient end use of energy in buildings, transportation, and industry
- Improving the energy efficiency of products and processes, and improving the overall energy productivity by shifting to less energy intensive activities
- Decarbonization of electricity and other fuels
- Reducing the carbon content of all transformed energies such as electricity, heat, liquids, and gases. In the power sector, this means replacing coal, as well as gas and oil, with renewable energy. Fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, as well as biofuels and carbon-free synthetic fuels may also play an important role
- Fuel switching of end uses to electricity and other low-carbon supplies.
- Replacing the direct use of fossil fuels with carbon-free electric energy; for example, in space heating, electric vehicles, and industrial processes and switching to lower-emissions fuels
How Can We Make Changes
All of these changes are needed across all sectors of the economy to meet the target of an 80% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2050. Although the nations of the world have agreed to “decarbonize” in order to mitigate climate change, we must all take steps in order to reduce our own personal emissions. Luckily, there are lots of easy things we can all do to cut back on our carbon footprints. Some of these include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Supporting the generation of renewable energy (by opting for a supplier that offers environmentally-conscious energy solutions, like Kiwi Energy).
- Choosing eco-friendly modes of transportation like biking, walking, using public transit, or carpooling in order to reduce the fuel you consume in transport
- Being more energy conscious and efficient (some ideas are: upgrading the lighting in your home to LED bulbs, air-drying clothes and dishes, sealing your home of leaks, turning off electronics and appliances not in use, etc.)
- Avoiding food waste (by planning ahead, purchasing only what you need, and freezing leftovers or composting scraps)
- Always opting for local, organic ingredients in order to reduce your food miles
- Eating less meat (the production of red meat uses a lot of feed, water and land. Cows themselves also give off methane emissions)
- Taking the stairs
- Thinking twice before buying something new – do you really need this item?
- Reusing and repairing household items whenever possible, including clothing
- Avoiding single-use plastics by leveraging reusables
- Ensuring you properly recycle any plastic, paper, glass or metal that comes into your life you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse by researching your state’s recycling laws
- Ensuring proper disposal of electronics
Making the right choices when it comes to your electricity consumption is an important part of reducing your environmental impact. Kiwi Energy is an energy retailer specializing in environmentally-focused electricity and natural gas solutions to New York and Ohio residents. At Kiwi Energy, we’re fully committed to sustainability, environmental protection, and helping you reduce your carbon footprint. Along with offering you eco-conscious solutions for your electricity and gas supply, we also support environmental non-profits through the Ecogold Environmental Fund, such as Wild Forests and Fauna, and Earthwatch Institute. For every new customer acquired by Kiwi Energy, a portion of the proceeds are donated to the fund.
Now that you’re familiar with the global plan to decarbonize the Earth’s economy, you can follow our tips in order to reduce your own environmental impact and help create a more sustainable future for our planet. Play your part to combat global warming and sign up for Kiwi Energy today.