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Significance of Carbon Footprints Estimation in Changing Global Environment

Authors:
  • Awadesh Pratap Singh University Rewa (M.P.) India

Abstract

Anthropogenic carbon emissions plays a crucial role in global climate change by causing imbalance in carbon cycle, rainfall changes and a shift in earth's energy balance towards warming. The carbon footprint or the impact of an individual on environment responsible for creating greenhouse gases has emerged as a widely used metric to analyze CO2 emissions. Large carbon footprints indicates high level of natural resources depletion, therefore individual approaches to control the activities that causes impact on the environment, are initial measures to combat the problem. Further, the carbon management technique focusing on energy efficient processes like recycling, use of public transport, water consumption, managing pollutant inputs, analyzing product supply chain carbon emission and their mitigation, and assessing and applying carbon offset technology for various entities has potential to minimize the emission. The aim of this study is to discuss the increasing public interest in environment protection and the desire for ecofriendly consumption like demand for carbon labels on products and goods. The various approaches for calculating the individual's primary carbon footprint over which it has direct control or secondary carbon footprint those are associated with consumption of product and services are important factors to mitigate this problem.
IJSART - Volume 2 Issue 12 –DECEMBER 2016 ISSN [ONLINE]: 2395-1052
Page | 332 www.ijsart.com
Significance of Carbon Footprints Estimation in
Changing Global Environment
Dr. Sandeep Pandey1, Swastika Gupta2, Sulekha Pandey3
1, 2, 3 School of Environmental Biology, A.P.S University, Rewa (M.P.) 486003
Abstract- Anthropogenic carbon emissions plays a crucial
role in global climate change by causing imbalance in carbon
cycle, rainfall changes and a shift in earth’s energy balance
towards warming. The carbon footprint or the impact of an
individual on environment responsible for creating
greenhouse gases has emerged as a widely used metric to
analyze CO2 emissions. Large carbon footprints indicates
high level of natural resources depletion, therefore individual
approaches to control the activities that causes impact on the
environment, are initial measures to combat the problem.
Further, the carbon management technique focusing on
energy efficient processes like recycling, use of public
transport, water consumption, managing pollutant inputs,
analyzing product supply chain carbon emission and their
mitigation, and assessing and applying carbon offset
technology for various entities has potential to minimize the
emission. The aim of this study is to discuss the increasing
public interest in environment protection and the desire for
ecofriendly consumption like demand for carbon labels on
products and goods. The various approaches for calculating
the individual’s primary carbon footprint over which it has
direct control or secondary carbon footprint those are
associated with consumption of product and services are
important factors to mitigate this problem.
Keywords- CO2 emission, carbon footprint, environment
protection, carbon reduction
I. INTRODUCTION
Carbon footprint’ also referred as ‘carbon emission
accounting’ mainly obtained from consumption rather than
production from any anthropogenic activities or entity, has
become more crucial in this changing global environment. The
term introduced in 1990s by a Canadian environmentalist
William Rees is more realistic the calculation of carbon
emission and often includes other greenhouse gases, and is
expressed in terms of measure of weight as in ‘tons of CO2’
annually by an individual. In other words, carbon footprints
are the amount of carbon emissions [1] and can be referred as
a component of the ecological footprint in form of resource
consumption and waste absorption [2].
Although there is no clear definition of this term but
in terms of ecology it stands for a certain amount of gaseous
emissions that are closely related to climate change pertaining
to human production or consumption activities [3]. Instead of
using ‘carbon footprints’ the most appropriate term should be
actually a 'carbon weight' of kilograms or tonnes per person or
activity [4]. Carbon footprint is thus a measure of human
demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a measure of demand
for natural capital that may be differentiated with the earth’s
ecological capacity to regenerate. It also meant for the amount
of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to
supply the resources consumed by human population, along
with assimilation of the associated waste [5]. Carbon
footprints are an important arena for climate change
governance extending beyond the realms of the international
climate regime [6].
According to an estimate the per capita carbon
footprint is expected to rise substantially in many countries
specially the developing world over the next 50 years, mainly
due to broad increase in the standard of living, so every
citizens have to cut short carbon dioxide emissions in due time
[7]. Carbon offset or carbon reduction technology becomes
more meaningful with the modification in the living styles, use
of energy-efficient products and switching towards food
products with less carbon emission.
II. FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR CO2 EMISSIONS
Processes and factors responsible for greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions are unevenly distributed across and within
countries. In developing countries Food and services and in
rich countries mobility and manufactured goods are dominant
entity in rich countries. The analysis of goods and services of
73 nations and 14 aggregate around the world reveals that
72% of greenhouse gas emissions are related to household
consumption, 10% to government consumption, 18% to
investments, 20% Food, 19% operation and maintenance of
residences and 17% to mobility. The cross-national
expenditure elasticity is 0.81 thus suggesting a global
relationship between expenditure and emissions [8].
The food system process like raw material
acquisition, processing, packaging, preservation,
transportation, consumption, and disposal constitute a large
part of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions [9]. The chemical
shows a great impact on ecosystems and human health and a
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Page | 333 www.ijsart.com
big scientific challenge for ecotoxicology [10]. Aviation sector
is the fastest growing source of GHG emissions, and it is
projected that the world’s commercial fleets will triple their
CO2 emissions by 2050 [11]. Among the industrial sectors,
the built environment creates the most pressure on the natural
environment and according to an estimate buildings-related
emissions are going to double by 2050 [12]. The Construction
activities are considered to be the largest consumer and
utilities the largest producer in the cities [13].
III. IMPACT OF CO2 EMISSIONS
The technology roadmap of global transport biofuels
reveals that first generation biofuels dominate the market up to
2020, whereas the advanced generation biofuels that is divided
into components like bioproductive land, built land, embodied
energy, materials and waste, transport, and water consumption
and carbon emissions, may constitute nearly 75% of biofuel
production by 2050. Among these components bioproductive
land shows maximum sharing, followed by carbon footprint,
embodied energy, and water footprint [2]. The human-induced
regional and global environmental changes have resulted in
ecological nonsustainability and health risks requiring
assessment of environmental footprint of global population
health. The data suggests that the larger footprints may impair
health giving rise to obesity and the impact is more in some
lower-income countries. Thus there is a need of social and
ecological sustainability with an equitable sharing of global
environmental footprint [14].
CO2 emissions cause climate change, chemical
pollution or depletion of natural resources, and thus it
becomes necessary to generate the product or process more
"green" [15]. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have modified
hydrological cycles, marine ecosystems and species lifecycles
due to emissions from the consumption of coal followed by
petroleum, natural gas, and biomass causing global habitat
loss [16]. According to a study, in countries like India and the
UK small-scale institutional sewage treatment plants (STPs)
consume more energy than large-scale municipal plants.
Among the total energy intensity of the municipal and
institutional STPs, embodied energy from construction
material followed by chemicals, shows maximum
contribution. The fugitive emissions from large-scale were
higher than small-scale STPs. Further, in India average
electrical energy intensity is much lower compare to UK, for
small-scale STPs therefore the country do not have resource
recovery processes and hence use solar heat for sludge drying.
Thus there is a need of designing low carbon strategies for
urban waste infrastructure [17].
IV. ESTIMATION AND CALCULATION OF CARBON
FOOTPRINTS
Carbon footprints referred as Greenhouse gas
accountings are commonly used metrics to analyze
environmental impacts due to different products, technologies,
and services taken from several sectors [15], either directly or
indirectly caused by an activity or accumulated during the life
stages of a product [1]. Carbon footprints are an important tool
for greenhouse gas management significant in all the areas of
life and economy, as different products, bodies, and processes
going worldwide, expressed as their carbon footprints, hence
requires standards in accounting, emission cuts and
verifications with special caution during selection of gases and
order of emissions [18]. The selection of Greenhouse Gas,
system settings, calculation and carbon footprint, selection of
date and treatment of particular emissions are the most
significant part of the analyses of the carbon footprint and
assessment standards, especially for organizations and
products [5].
The footprint methodologies used for environmental
assessment should focus on environmental impacts like
resource consumption, water consumption and CO2 emission
leading to climate change [10]. Ecological Footprint Analysis
(EFA) with straightforward calculation technique has
potentiality to analyze the human impact on the environmental
system by detecting the amount of biologically productive
land that withstands a person’s level of consumption and
waste generation. The population growth analysis shows
decline in per capita biocapacity, however the ecological
footprint remains constant showing the deviation from
sustainability. This simplified methodology needs further
investigation especially in large, geographically and culturally
varied nations [19]. Calculating carbon accounting and carbon
footprints of the firms in general includes carbon labels on
products and mapping of products life path, and sometimes
encounters problem in case of small companies due to the
principal source of CO2 emissions. This can be overcome by
determining the emission and passing on the data stage to
stage so that a company receives data from its direct trading
partners and can distribute with comprehensive life cycle
analyses making CO2 calculations easier [20].
There is a need of relevant methods to reduce the
carbon footprint within the life cycle of food system process.
Rational site selection, environmental choices of packaging
stage, reduction in refrigeration dependence, and proper waste
treatment, purchase patterns and substitution within food
product categories and carbon tax can play significant role in
GHG emissions reduction [9]. The assessment of chemical
footprint includes two steps firstly use and emissions of a
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product, sector, or entire economy, secondly the range of
harming the ecosystem and its recovery, and thus requires an
appropriate methodologies [10]. In various countries, the
company like Waternet is engaged in treating waste water
using chemicals and producing drinking water however
affected by climate change. The use of Climate footprint
methodology for mitigation of this problem should be given
preference. Although some process like transport and
purification directly generates CO2 emissions but can be
reduced at supplier level [21].
An efficient and sustainable designing of cycling
modal networks in the transport sector can be a best option to
reduce carbon emissions and for this greenways should be
developed and carbon costs and savings associated with this
process should also be monitored to study and balance carbon
footprint [22]. There should be special concern on evaluation
of global supplier chain which includes total cost, delay in
item delivery, quality rejection, and total value of purchasing
(TVP). The model designing in quantification of carbon
footprint contains multi-objective fuzzy linear programming
for global supplier and quota allocation along with carbon
caps and carbon emission management factors [23]. In
European countries the assessment of the chemical footprint
on the aquatic ecosystems is based on European water volume
and the use of pesticides and provides a novel type of
information about risk management, focusing mainly on
chemicals and environmental compartments [24].
V. ABATEMENT OF CO2 EMISSIONS
The sources of the origin of greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions is becoming difficult in complex world economy
with a massive growth in emission in developed compared to
developing nations that do not show any spatial expansion of
consumption footprints. Thus for abatement measures it
becomes significant to link subnational entities like the states,
cities and companies with downstream users and regulators
who control primary emissions [25]. The abatement measures
require addressing the issues of affluence and for this the
governments should directly intervene in nonsustainable
lifestyles and consumer behavior [16]. Product carbon
footprint and characterizing their global warming potentials as
point values using life cycle inventory results and quantitative
uncertainty estimates helps in testing products environmental
quality performance [26].
The methods adopted for Ecological Footprint not
addresses all relevant issues at once however linking
bioproductivity with ecosystem services and biodiversity and
environmentally extended input-output analysis are best fitted
tools for EF calculations [27]. The urban carbon management
requires rational consumption and industrial symbiosis, and
there should be a significant understanding and collaboration
along all stages of the global supply chain. The cities with net
carbon consumption should transfer carbon emissions by
trading in carbon-intensive products, while the cities of net
carbon production needed to produce carbon-intensive
products for nonlocal consumers [13].
Firms or corporations and individuals can reduce
carbon footprints or become carbon neutral by investing in a
carbon-reducing activity or technology also referred as
‘carbon offsets’. To reduce the emission of greenhouse gases
generating from aviation sector the scientific community have
to become a role modal by cutting down on long-distance air
travel [7]. The researcher has to focus on to tackle embodied
carbon (EC) mitigation and reduction strategy, which requires
a pluralistic approach. The use of materials with low EC,
quality design, reuse of EC-intensive materials, and better
policy drivers are key elements for a low carbon built
environment [12]. It is a general tendency of a company or
organizations to calculate carbon footprint by estimating direct
emissions or emissions from purchased energy, thus have to
focus on supply chain emissions. They should approach for
integrated environmental life-cycle assessment that includes
industry energy inputs plus direct emissions which gives a
complete account of the total supply chain carbon emissions
[28].
The policymakers, social movements and social
scientists have made a great concern about carbon markets in
governing carbon flows operating on the global and personal
level. These markets regulated by state and civil society
authorities connect carbon flows to the family circle and the
lifestyles of citizen-consumers in a direct and meaningful
manner and improves global climate change politics among
citizen-consumers [29]. Although the policy makers are
advocating for an alternative energy sources, but afforestation
always remains the best option for the balance energy demand.
Therefore, the mitigation of CO2 emissions requires
analysis and calculation of carbon footprint generated due to
anthropogenic activities, by integrating all social, economical
and political causes focusing on assessment of primary
sources of carbon emission and reduction strategy.
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