Destacada blog CO2

Climate Change: What can we do to stop it

CLIMATE CHANGE: WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP IT

Year after year we witness negative news related to climate change: floods, sea level rise, melting of the poles, large-scale fires, hurricanes, etc. Devastating news attacking every corner of the planet.

Sometimes with this news, we can get the idea that this dark future is inevitable. However, we want to shed light on this situation and share information on what measures we can carry out so that the impact of climate change is as low as possible.

Increased CO2 emissions

CO2 emissions continue to increase every year, in fact, 37 billion tons were emitted in 2019, 50% more than in 2000.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 were reduced by 5.8%. However, according to data presented by the Global Carbon Project emissions in 2021 are on the rise again, estimating a growth of carbon dioxide expelled by the energy sector of 4.9 % in 2021. This increase is of the same magnitude as the one which took place in 2010 after the great recession.

Emisiones de CO2 globales por región

Total CO2 emissions globally by region. (Our World in Data, 2019).

Although there is a certain commitment to introduce policies that reduce the impact of climate change, they are certainly not enough. Which makes us wonder what the main reasons for the constant increase in CO2 emissions are.

There are two main reasons why these emissions continue to increase: population and economic growth.

Population growth

People have needs, which range from the most essential, such as a home, clothing, or food, to the most luxurious, travel, mobile, TV, among others. All these needs leave a carbon footprint on our ecosystem.

This means that the greater the number of people, the greater the environmental impact.

The world population continues to grow year after year and, although the annual growth rate is expected to decline, the United Nations estimates that the population will reach almost 11 billion in 2100, more than double the world population in 1987.

Crecimiento global de la población

World population growth from 1700 to 2100. (Our World in Data, 2019)

Although there are potential measures to slow population growth, these could take time to have an effect. For this reason, with world population growth, CO2 emissions will continue to increase.

Economic growth

Another factor that directly favors the impact of climate change is the economic growth of the population.

In this case, it not only affects the number of people, but the higher the purchasing power, the greater the impact on the carbon footprint.

If we compare CO2 emissions among those countries with higher GDP with others with countries with lower Gross Domestic Product, we can have a vision of how economic growth affects CO2 emissions.

Country GPD Annual CO2 emissions per capita
USA 22,675,271 US$ million 16,06 t
China 16,642,318 US$ million 7,10 t
Japan 5,378,136 US$ million 8,72 t
Germany 4,319,286 US$ million 8,40 t
 
Country GDP Annual CO2 emissions per capita
Uganda 41,271 US$ million 0,12 t
Nepal 36,084 US$ million 0,49 t
Haiti 22,431 US$ million 0,29 t
Madagascar 14,746 US$ million 0,15 t
 

Source GDP: Wikipedia
Source CO2: Our Wold in Data

With these data we can affirm that 1 inhabitant in the USA emits the same CO2 as 133 inhabitants in Uganda.

There is a positive trend in global economic growth, with a growth of approximately 98% between 2000 and 2020, according to data from The World Bank.

In short, due to the continued growth of the population and the economy, CO2 emissions will continue to increase.

Once we know the main factors that promote the production of CO2, it is time to know which are those that would help us reduce these emissions: Energy intensity and emissions per kWh.

Energy intensity

Energy intensity allows us to know how efficient we are when using energy. In other words, the more efficient we are, the less energy we need to achieve something.

There are several ways to be more energy efficient, such as optimizing energy consumption with the use of artificial intelligence, the electrification of sectors such as transport or the use of renewable energy or nuclear energy over less efficient energy, such as coal.

Using energy more efficiently is not the definitive solution, since, although we have devices that consume less energy to fulfill a purpose, we must be aware of the consumption of our resources and not to consume them in an uncontrolled way.

In other words, if we have more efficient devices, but we increase the number of devices we have, we expose ourselves to our impact on CO2 being still significant.

Also, by being more energy efficient, it makes certain technologies available to more people, making this a problem. An example of this is transport, by reducing the energy and global costs of transport, whether it is sea, land or air, the price of tickets is reduced, making it easier for more people to end up using it.

CO2 emissions per kWh

First, we want to explain what CO2 emissions per kWh mean.

kWh is a unit related to power generation. In this case we refer to how much CO2 is emitted per unit of energy produced.

These emissions come both from the emissions themselves emitted during power generation and from the construction of the necessary facilities:

Coal – 1.001 kg CO2/kWh
Oil – 0.840 kg CO2/kWh
Natural Gas – 0.469 kg CO2/kWh
Solar – 0.046 kg CO2/kWh
Nuclear – 0.016 kg CO2/kWh
Wind – 0.012 kg CO2/kWh
Hydraulic – 0.004 kg CO2/kWh

With this table we can affirm that electrical energy from sources such as coal has much higher CO2 emissions than, for example, solar energy.

Of the available energy sources, those that come from fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) are those that present the greatest risk to planet Earth.

Possible future scenarios

The increase in global temperature due to CO2 emissions has a catastrophic effect on Earth, affecting all life on it.

In the data presented by “Our World in Data”, we can observe the different possible scenarios according to the policies and measures taken in reference to CO2 emissions.

In the case of continuing with current environmental policies, we can expect an increase in global temperature in 2100 from 2.7 to 3.1ºC.

If countries kept their current promises going forward, we would see a future with a global temperature rise of 2.4ºC in 2100.

But if our objective is to limit warming to “below 2 ° C”, as established in the Paris Agreement, we are clearly a long way from that goal.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) presents a report which shows why it is vital to maintain an increase in global temperature below 1.5ºC, since that, although the world will continue to suffer from negative impacts, these will be less in frequency and intensity.

Tech4Nature: It’s time to take action

As we checked, we need a series of actions, innovations, and policies to opt for a sustainable future where climate change will not be a serious problem for the living beings of this planet.

At Phi4tech we work and develop innovative products that help to transform this utopian future into a reality. We believe that the sustainable way of bringing new developments is one that goes hand in hand with sustainability and the environment.

We work, not only on future innovations, but on actions in our present. An example of this is our battery manufacturing project in Spain , with which we seek to bring energy storage technology as a real alternative technology to fossil fuels. We need to find the way to bet on more efficient energy sources and with lower CO2 emissions.

We need to undertake actions with low carbon footprint technologies that give us more time to continue incorporating new innovations that will come.

Today the change has begun. Will you join us?