Carbon Neutrality in industry
Our continuous global increase in carbon emissions is related to a number of climate change challenges. The Paris Agreement mandated that almost all nations commit to a specific carbon reduction target in 2015. Customers, employees, and other stakeholders have put pressure on the private sector to do its share. As a result, many businesses are working to develop carbon-neutral business strategies.
For businesses looking to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere, the term "carbon neutrality" has come to be used as a catch-all.
Surprisingly, businesses that reduce their carbon footprint gain more than just a better world. Businesses that are certified as being climate-neutral also prosper financially. So how do businesses achieve carbon neutrality? Today, we'll look at how to achieve carbon neutrality, business practices that can help you cut your carbon footprint, and the steps involved in obtaining carbon certification.
How does carbon neutrality work?
The term "carbon neutrality" refers specifically to the requirement for the earth to maintain homeostasis through greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide absorption into carbon sinks. This equilibrium has been upset by human activity, and too much CO2 is now entering the atmosphere faster than the planet can take it in and store it.
Carbon sequestration is the natural process by which the world stores carbon in carbon sinks, either biologically or geologically. To attain carbon neutrality, however, scientists are constantly developing new carbon sequestration technologies.
Unfortunately, technological development still hasn't reached the level necessary to be carbon neutral. The gigatonnes of carbon that people are releasing into the atmosphere cannot be absorbed by important natural carbon sinks, including the Amazon rainforest, permafrost, other forests, soil, and the ocean. This is why more corporations need to switch to being carbon neutral.
Although "carbon neutrality" has long been a term used by climate scientists, the typical consumer is only now beginning to use it. There are several levels of carbon footprint reduction for businesses, though. Businesses can be:
A company's operations must remove as much CO2 from the atmosphere as it is producing in order to be considered carbon neutral. A corporation is emitting net-zero emissions when it accomplishes this. The typical route to becoming a carbon-zero corporation is to buy carbon offset certificates. In essence, you are not emitting any less carbon dioxide. However, you are making a financial contribution in some way to the elimination of carbon.
Companies that are carbon neutral strive to keep their emissions in check, while those that are carbon negative want to release less carbon into the atmosphere than they remove. Microsoft, a tech behemoth, has stated that it intends to become carbon negative by 2030.
Why is achieving carbon neutrality important?
One of the primary GHGs thought to contribute to global warming are carbon emissions, specifically carbon dioxide. Consequently, unchecked carbon emissions are regrettably causing a rise in global temperature. Natural calamities that could be disastrous to human life and the planet's existence could result from these abrupt alterations to our planet's atmosphere. Because of this, it's critical to cut GHG emissions, particularly carbon dioxide emissions.
There are some frameworks and meetings that are held to assist businesses and governments all over the world in reducing their carbon footprint in order to achieve carbon neutrality, as acclaimed in the Paris Agreement and most recently in the most recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), by 2050. In some countries, it has become a regulated issue, while in others, it is a voluntary effort covered by their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy.
The problem of climate change is serious and getting worse. Everyone can agree that harming the environment is a bad idea, regardless of their political views on the matter. There are, however, less noble motivations for going carbon neutral.
The investment takes time to yield returns, just like with any other financial venture. However, some carbon neutrality expenses can be reduced right away. For instance, you can save a lot more money than you initially invested if you properly insulate your buildings, cut down on unneeded travel, and establish a work climate that encourages less waste.
The buying public has changed, and the younger generation is more vocal about the choices they make while making purchases. In an era of openness, young consumers will stick with a company that shares their values.
Additionally, market talent is evolving. More and more people are opting for lower-paying jobs if the employer has greater ethical standards.
Price reductions of this magnitude are uncommon, and governments will probably find a method to impose a tax on carbon usage. You may probably escape the tax increase by turning your business into a carbon-zero enterprise.
Initiatives and laws relating to carbon neutrality
Applications and laws to attain carbon neutrality are illustrated by the following examples:
- The "European climate law" was enacted by the European Council in 2021. The "European Green Deal" pledges all EU nations to attain net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, and this statute embraces those aims. As a result, it guarantees that every industrial sector will contribute to reaching this aim!
- The United States of America rejoined the Paris Agreement in 2021, which accelerated the government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Relying on efforts from the private sector, such as those of the First Movers Coalition, to contribute in order to switch to green technologies and become carbon neutral by 2050. Research and development programs are getting a lot of money to help them find ways to use clean hydrogen technologies and other technologies for carbon capture and storage.
- The Climate Change Act 2008, which was enacted by the government in the United Kingdom (UK), establishes goals for carbon and GHG emissions. To ensure that the goals are established, procedures and committees are in place. The UK also wants to be the first country to achieve emissions reductions of 78% by 2035 and emissions elimination by 2050. These goals and the events after the COP 26 summit in Glasgow compelled UK businesses to publicly disclose their plans for achieving net-zero emissions.
- International standards exist that can assist businesses in tracking and calculating their GHG emissions and reductions. Such instructions are provided by the ISO 14064 standard. By using this strategy, businesses can enhance their reputation and have a positive impact on the environment.
But becoming carbon neutral is not a simple undertaking. The most polluting industries must be involved. Among other alternative options, infrastructure, financial resources, and technology tools (for innovation within industrial processes) are needed to support industry in its efforts to decrease or collect carbon emissions.
How to Register Your Business as a Carbon Neutral Company
There are four actions you must take if your business wants to be carbon neutral. Which are:
Measuring and analyzing the total quantity of greenhouse gas emissions your firm generates, then breaking it down by department, is the first stage in obtaining your carbon neutral certification. All activities are included in this, such as travel, work, and energy consumption.
The next stage is to develop a plan for where you can make cuts after determining the overall quantity of carbon you emit and where it comes from. Non-profit organizations like Cool Effect can help you identify important areas where CO2 emissions can be reduced if you need assistance developing a strategy.
There will be some emissions that can only be lowered very expensively and other emissions that cannot be reduced at all as organizations decarbonize. A carbon offset is a tool that lets customers claim a certain amount of emission reductions that can be measured and proven.
The effects of greenhouse gas emissions brought on by university operations are countered, compensated for, or offset by carbon offsets or carbon credits. Metric tons (tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e) are used to measure themtered, compensated for, or offset by carbon offsets or carbon credits. Metric tons (tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e) are used to measure them. Carbon credits are used to pay for initiatives that stop or reduce emissions by one metric ton for every one that is produced. To formally make up for emissions and help with emission reduction goals, credits can be bought and retired.
Carbon offsetting, also known as carbon offset credits, is a unit that can be sold as part of the process of actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding, reducing, sequestering, or removing carbon from the atmosphere.
You must communicate your commitment to preserving the environment to the public and to your stakeholders. This kind of climate action builds goodwill with the public and makes people more aware of how important it is for other business owners to run carbon-neutral businesses.
Alternative energy sources for decarbonizing industry
About 90% of the GHG emissions from industrial activity are carbon dioxide emissions. Reduced emissions are the goal. It will be more difficult in some industries than others, though. Some industries must analyze their entire manufacturing and production processes before they can begin to reduce their emissions.
Lowering CO2 emissions by implementing physical or chemical processes to capture these pollutants. It is accomplished by using the employed methods to gather concentrated CO2 steam.
Here are some successful carbon capture examples:
- By catching the concentrated vapors in the chimneys before they reach the environment in British Columbia, Canada, industry has been able to deploy effective (chemical and physical) techniques to limit carbon emissions. By 2050, carbon neutrality will be the target.
- The Orca carbon capture plant, as its name implies, has started a fascinating initiative for carbon capture in Iceland. The unit has the capacity to capture 4,000 tons of carbon annually. After being caught, the CO2 emissions are injected underground into porous basaltic rocks. However, this technology and technique are thought to be quite expensive, and research is still being done to find ways to lower these prices. Even though this method helps to clean the air, some environmental activists believe that it is bad for the ecosystem because it changes the ground's rocks.
CO2 can be stored in many different ways, but the most important factor is the geology.
- The first strategy, mineral carbonation, involves storing the CO2 in porous rocks and non-carbonate minerals. Therefore, the ability to store the captured carbon entirely depends on the geological rock formations that exist in the region. The CO2 emissions are kept underground after being caught. As previously indicated, basaltic porous rocks, where carbon dioxide fills the voids in this geological structure, are where the captured carbon from the Orca carbon capture plant is stored. As a result, permeable rocks are necessary for the successful storage of carbon in the ground.
- Geological storage is the second strategy. This method originated in the oil and gas sector. It entails injecting CO2 into permeable sedimentary rocks or depleted oil and gas reservoirs below the surface of the planet.
- The oceanic storage of CO2 is an alternative strategy. At depths below 3000 m, CO2 is injected and dissolved. Since CO2 has a larger density than seawater, this process will confine the CO2 in the water, creating a kind of lake. The CO2 will then dissolve entirely, depending on the climatic conditions in the area. The physicochemical responses of CO2 in the marine environment, the geological circumstances during injection, and the efficacy of oceanic CO2 sequestration are all completely dependent on each other.
Using CO2 as a raw material
Carbon dioxide, according to some studies, will be a critical raw material in the future. Due to its chemical properties, it is a key raw material in the chemical industry. For instance, the synthesis of cyclic carbonate through the cycloaddition of carbon dioxide can make it possible to manufacture solvents and monomers that are crucial in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
In the food industry, carbon dioxide is also used in less common ways to make foods and drinks with carbonation.
Benefits of achieving carbon neutrality for your company
The advantages of carbon neutral certification for your business include:
- Proving your continued dedication to decarbonization goals and the steps you are taking to accomplish them;
- Through an annual certification assessment, track your advancement.
- Reduce emissions and promote superior environmental projects to support global decarbonization efforts.
- Adhere to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in terms of your company.