Controlling Carbon Emissions
With increasing combustion of fuel, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions, the GHG layer is increasing in thickness and disturbing the natural balance in radiative energy, thereby causing interference with the earth’s climate system.
Globally, the key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O) and Fluorinated gases (F-gases). The energy sector dominates the picture in terms of emissions. Burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global GHG emissions.
Driven by higher energy demand in 2018, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose 1.7% to a historic high of 33.1 Gt CO2. The power sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of emissions growth. Coal use in power alone surpassed 10 Gt CO2, mostly in Asia. China, India, and the United States accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions.
A series of initiatives have been taken across the globe to produce energy more efficiently and to reduce the carbon footprint. With doubled electricity generation from wind and solar, US has made a significant progress to reach the goal of reducing GHG emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
As per Europe 2020 growth strategy targets, the EU has committed to cutting its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels. EU’s success in bringing down emissions is largely due to using less GHG-intensive energy fuels such as natural gas. Moreover, GHG-free nuclear energy and renewable energy sources comprise 23% share in overall energy production of EU.
The GCC region has ambitious plans to reduce the per capita carbon footprint by 8% in 2030. Emission mitigation projects to reduce CO2 emissions from oil and gas facilities are underway.
Saudi Arabia currently operates the largest carbon capture and utilization plant in the world, turning half a million tons of CO2 annually into products such as fertilizers and methanol. The country has plans to deploy more carbon capture utilisation and storage facilities kingdom-wide in line with sustainability objectives.
Carbon trading schemes are emerging all over the world as governments try to meet targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against global warming. Switching to cleaner fuels, raising the share of carbon-neutral energy sources, and extensive investments in energy-efficient technologies are offsetting the growth in GHG emissions and forging a path to a sustainable future.