How Your Footprints Can Help
Climate Change
Pratap Padode

How Your Footprints Can Help Climate Change

For many people, the journey to and from work are the bookends of the daily grind. But how we choose to travel to the office, or even to pop to the shops, is also one of the biggest day-to-day climate decisions we face.

For many people, the journey to and from work are the bookends of the daily grind. But how we choose to travel to the office, or even to pop to the shops, is also one of the biggest day-to-day climate decisions we face. In countries like the UK and the US, the transport sector is now responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other; same is the case in our cities, like Delhi and Mumbai, including electricity production and agriculture. Globally, transport accounts for around a quarter of CO2 emissions.

Talking about cement, it is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to think tank Chatham House. Since the 1950s, with Asia and China accounting for the bulk of growth from the 1990s onwards. Production has increased more than thirty fold since 1950 and almost fourfold since 1990. China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US did in the entire 20th Century. Imagine the quantum of CO2 emitted by the production of cement alone.

According IEA report (The International Energy Agency) Coal-fired electricity generation accounts for 30% of global CO2 emissions. The majority of that generation is found today in Asia, where average plants are only 12 years old, decades younger than their average economic lifetime of around 40 years. Increased use of renewables in 2018 had an even greater impact on CO2 emissions, avoiding 215 Mt of emissions, the vast majority of which is due to the transition to renewables in the power sector.

The savings from renewables was led by China and Europe, together contributing two-thirds to the global total. Increased generation from nuclear power plants also reduced emissions, averting nearly 60 Mt of CO2 emissions. Overall, without the transition to low-carbon sources of energy in 2018, emissions growth would have been 50% higher. Nevertheless, overall cement emissions have been flat or declining in recent years as demand in China levelled off.

The cement sector has very well responded to the call of environment by making improvements in the energy-efficiency of new plants and burning waste materials instead of fossil fuels has seen the average CO2 emissions per tonne of output fall by 18% over the last few decades. In spite that being the situation the industry is reaching the limits of what it can do with current measures. If the sector has any hope of meeting its commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, it will need to look at overhauling the cement-making process itself, not only reducing the use of fossil fuels. The biggest polluter in cement making process is clinker manufacturing that emits the largest amount of CO2

Another unexplored area is “innovative technologies”, which is essentially shorthand for reducing emissions using carbon capture and storage (CCS). This has not yet been used in the cement industry on commercial scale barring few trials, but the roadmap assumes integration of CCS in the cement sector will reach commercialscale deployment by 2030. Uncertainty over the potential to rapidly scale-up CCS and its large cost are major barriers to its use in reducing concrete emissions.

Indian Cement Review has continued to inform the stakeholders in the industry all through this challenging pandemic by putting across webinars, through its website and even held its bi-annual Cement Expo which was held this year with a virtual conference and awards. All through the year we have brought issues to the fore that need the attention of the industry and this annual issue highlights another alarming issue of ‘Climate Change’. Bill Gates, the genius billionnaire too has released a book,

“How to avoid a climate disaster”.

Chief executive Benjamin Sporton says the fact the organisation now exists “is a demonstration of the commitment of the industry to sustainability, including taking action on climate change”.

And much of the world’s transport networks still remain focused around the car.

Road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes – account for nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport.

So, the way you get around each day can make a big difference to your own carbon footprint.

Follow me on twitter @PratapPadode

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