WhaT IS THE
- Greenhouse gases (GHG) absorb this infrared radiation and trap its heat in the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect that results in global warming and climate change.
GHG that result from human activity
- Carbon dioxide CO2
- Methane CH4
- Nitrous oxide N2O
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- Sulfur hexafluoride SF6
- Nitrogen trifluoride NF3
- Agricultural GHG Sources
Why Care About GHG Emissions?
🏛 Political pressure
🇺🇳 Bodies & Agreements
The Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC)
- United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
- The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options.
United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), every country on Earth is treaty-bound to “avoid dangerous climate change”, and find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally in an equitable way.
‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP)
- ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP) are global climate summits that serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
- The Kyoto Protocol operationalizes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing industrialied countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets.
COP21 - The Paris Agreement
- Legally binding international treaty on climate change.
- Goal is to limit global warming to below 2°C , preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.
- 196 nations working together for a common cause and reporting on:
- Actions they will take to reduce their GHG emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement
- Actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures
- Framework for financial, technical and capacity building support to those countries who need it.
- Article 6 of the Paris Agreement seeks to establish the rules that determine how countries can trade credits to help them achieve their emissions-reduction targets under their national climate plans (known as “nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs).
- Works on a 5- year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries.
COP26 - The Glasgow Climate Pact
- Considered "a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change."
- Collective commitment to:
- Limit global warming to 1.5°C
- Accelerate the phase-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, and curb emissions from methane
- Halt reverse forest loss
- Deliver financial resources to support climate change initiatives
- Recognized the importance of nature for both reducing emissions and building resilience to the impacts of climate change. eg. “sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.”
- 2030 - The year by which time global emissions must be cut by 50% if we are to achieve the 1.5°C limit.
- With current actions global emissions and pace of action, it is estimated that we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit.
- The Emissions Gap
Gap between required reductions and current pace of reductions to achieve 1.5°C target.
Net-Zero by 2050
- 130 countries aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050
- Net zero targets give reasons for hope, but will fail without sufficient 2030 reductions.
- There needs to be alignment between 2030 targets and net zero goals for the latter to be believable.
🚨 Code RED for humanity (IPCC Report)
- Highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.
- Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, Some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame.
- Global temperatures will be at least 1.5°C higher by 2040
⚡️ More targets & actions are needed
- Almost all developed countries need to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition
- Ten-step net zero target evaluation methodology for evaluating countries’ net zero targets, based of good practice, and guided by three key objectives:
1. Transparency about governments’ long-term commitments;
2. Robustness & comprehensiveness of targets;
3. Fostering of mutual learning & dissemination good practice.
🌏 Environmental pressure
🌤 Climate Impacts of 1.5°C of global warming
- Heatwaves, droughts, floods, heavy rains
- Shorter cold seasons / Longer warm seasons
- Significant increases in extreme events
🌿 Agricultural impacts of 1.5°C of global warming
- Yield and quality impacts
- Biodiversity & animal health challenges
- Geographic distribution of crops & livestock
- Food supply shortages / Sovereign self-sufficiency
- Economic repercussion eg. farmer livelihoods, price volatility of agricultural commodities, insurance
💵 Commercial pressure
💰 Financial considerations
- Fulfilling disclosure & reporting obligations as frameworks (eg. Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures - TCFD) recognize climate & nature related risks to financial markets become standard practice
- Ensuring continued access to capital as financial institutions make commitments to align their portfolios with net-zero ambitions
- Responding to & managing activist shareholders increasingly driven by ESG and climate considerations
- Managing implications of carbon pricing, including market access and import costs as carbon-border adjustment mechanisms are implemented
🏢 Organization considerations
- Maintaining social license to operate by demonstrating corporate responsibility
- Leveraging brand aligned opportunities
- Cultivating shared purpose to support employee engagement
How Can GHG Emissions
The process of reducing the amount of carbon, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), sent into the atmosphere. Its objective is to achieve a low-emissions global economy to attain climate neutrality via the energy transition.
- ❓ Removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it for significant periods of time.
🌱 Plant-based Sequestration
- Plants capture carbon via photosynthesis and transport it deep down into their root systems in the soil, where the carbon is stored securely unless the soil health is disturbed.
- Restoring trees to the landscape through reforestation, restocking degraded forests and agroforestry systems to provide natural carbon sinks
🪨 Soil-Based Sequestration
- The process of storing carbon in soil organic matter and thus removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- The carbon cycle into and out of the soil
- No till farming (reducing tillage effects on soil)
- Crop rotation and maintenance of permanent cover crops help to reduce soil erosion
- Rotational grazing and reducing stocking density on grasslands
- Reduced emissions from cows as a result of a grass-fed diet
- Optimising manure application
- Eliminated synthetic fertilizer needs, reducing the emissions of producing and transporting the fertilizers.
- Organic inputs that ain in restoring below-ground biodiversity by enhancing the functioning of soil microbial communities
- Agroforestry - the process of combining trees and agriculture together to optimises the beneficial interactions between trees and crops under ground, as well as bring in pollinators and biodiversity above ground.
🧽 Direct air capture
- The process of chemically scrubbing carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air, and then storing it either underground or in long-lived products eg. concrete.
💎 Enhanced mineralization
- Some minerals naturally react with CO2, turning carbon from a gas into a solid.
🏭 Stripping CO2 out of industrial processes
- Capturing emissions at the end of industrial processes such as power generation, cement or steel manufacture, and then storing that captured carbon either underground or in long-lived products eg. concrete.
🌊 Ocean-based carbon removal
- Oceans are natural long-term sink for anthropogenic CO2.
- Ocean CO2 removal approaches aim to boost the ocean’s biological and abiotic carbon pumps. These pumps are the natural processes by which the oceans remove and store CO2.
- The ocean’s biological carbon transports CO2 from surface waters into the deep ocean and marine sediments.
- Photosynthesis by marine plants and algae converts CO2 into organic carbon
- Most of this carbon is recycled back into CO2 by the food web, a fraction is exported to the deep ocean where it can remain for hundreds of years, or if trapped in sediments, for tens of thousands of years.
- Ocean CDR approaches that target the biological pump aim to boost primary production to increase export of organic carbon to the deep ocean and sediments or create harvestable biomass that can be used in other carbon storage approaches.
- Artificial Upwelling
Upward transport of deep nutrient-rich waters to increase net primary production of photosynthesis by phytoplankton or macroalgae in sunlit surface waters.
- Blue Carbon Management
Restoration and protection of blue carbon ecosystems, including tidal salt marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrasses meadows, to ensure long-term below-ground storage of organic carbon
- Ocean Fertilization
Addition of nutrients such as iron (Fe), phosphorus (P), and nitrogen (N), to surface waters can stimulate photosynthesis and fixate excess amounts of CO2 in living biomass of phytoplankton or macroalgae.
- Macroalgal Cultivation
Cultivation and harvest of macroalgae as a means to remove CO2 from surface waters
- The ocean has two abiotic carbon pumps that pull CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean and influence the ocean’s capacity to absorb and store CO2.
- The SOLUBILITY pump transports carbon from the ocean’s surface to its interior.
- The CARBONATE pump buffers ocean acidification and increases uptake of CO2.
- Ocean CDR approaches that target abiotic processes in the carbon cycle aim to increase the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by seawater.
- Alkalinity Enhancement
Addition of alkaline minerals to seawater to increase alkalinity and so increase CO2 solubility and carbon storage
- Artificial Downwelling
Downward transport of CO2-saturated surface waters to accelerate CO2 equilibration with the deep ocean
- Direct Capture
Extraction of dissolved carbon from seawater via chemistry, electrochemistry, gas exchange, or other methods
- Deep Storage
Use of the ocean’s deep stable layers, seafloor, and sediment to store liquid CO2, organic carbon, or other carbon rich materials
🌾 Enhanced root crop
- Plant roots are responsible for water and nutrients uptake, but changes in soil temperatures alters this process limiting crop growth. The development of an efficient root system better adapted to changing soil and environmental conditions is crucial for enhancing crop productivity.
- Mechanisms for controlling root adaptation to warmer soils, including the activation of heat and oxidative pathways to prevent damage of root cells and disruption of root growth are actively being researched.
🧱 Bioenergy with carbon
capture and storage (BECCS)
- Using biomass for energy in the industrial, power or transportation sectors; capturing its emissions before they are released back to the atmosphere; and then storing that captured carbon either underground or in long-lived products eg. concrete.
- 🌿 Natural carobon remedies
- 🧪 Technological carbon removals
- 🧩 Hybrid strategies
- ❓ All types of GHGs can be avoided & reduced. GHG reduction refers to a reduction in GHG emissions, relative to baseline emissions.
🪚 Carbon avoidance projects
- Carbon avoidance projects contribute to climate action by preventing carbon that would have been released into the atmosphere. This could be building a wind farm to lower reliance on fossil fuels, repairing boreholes to replace the need for purifying water by boiling it on open fires and preventing deforestation.
⏳ Timeframes & Risks
⚓️ Permanence obligation requirements
- Carbon stored in vegetation and soils can be released back into the atmosphere by man-made or natural events, thereby reversing the environmental benefit of the sequestration project
- Sequestration is typically regarded as permanent if it is maintained on a net basis for 100 years.
- Double-counting refers to a situation where two parties claim the same carbon removal or emission reduction i.e. both the buyer and the seller.
- GHG reductions are additional if they would not have occurred in the absence of a market for offset credits or other incentives for GHG removals. If the reductions would have happened anyway – i.e., without any prospect for project owners to sell carbon offset credits – then they are not additional.
- Additionality is essential for the quality of carbon offset credits – if their associated GHG reductions are not additional, then purchasing offset credits in lieu of reducing your own emissions will make climate change worse.
Set a target
Where an organization seeks to balance CO2 emissions via ‘offsetting’ with no implied effort to reduce its own emissions
- Net-zero Emissions
Reducing GHG in order to balance emissions produced with emissions removed by
- reducing GHG emissions from all activities to the greatest extent possible
- offsetting GHG emissions produced by the organization
- The choice of target will largely be influenced by political, environmental and commercial factors (as above)
Target measurement mechanism
- Science-based target (SBTi)
Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, i.e. limit warming to 1.5°C.
Science-based targets provide a clearly-defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.
- In order to have officially set Science-Based Targets, an organization must go through a 5-step process that includes:
1. Submitting a letter of intent to set an SBT,
2. Working on an emissions reduction target in line with SBTi’s criteria,
3. Presenting the target to SBTi for official valuation,
4. Announcing the target and informing stakeholders, and
5. Reporting company-wide emissions and tracking target progress annually.
- To be approved by SBTi, the targets must meet rigorous criteria, including to:
- Include all relevant greenhouse gases,
- Cover a timeframe of 5 to 15 years from the submission date, and
- Be reported on to the public on an annual basis.
- Localised, eg city, state or region wide goals, to reduce emissions by a specific amount by a pre-determined date. The targets can cover all greenhouse gas emissions or specific gases (e.g., carbon dioxide only). The targets can be economy-wide or sector-specific, and they can also differ based on the baseline year that the state aims to reduce emissions below and the timeline for emissions reductions, including short-term, medium-term, and long-term targets.
- Jurisdictional specific targets may also be “carbon neutrality” or “net-zero” targets. Under these targets, there is a commitment to address any remaining greenhouse gas emissions through an equivalent amount of “emissions removals” or “avoided emissions.” For example, planting forests to absorb carbon dioxide emissions.
- ISO 14068 for “Greenhouse gas management and related activities – Carbon Neutrality” is to provide clear definitions for CO2 neutrality.
Measuring Your Emissions
- ❗️ Measuring all GHG emissions is important in order to baseline the current state of emissions intensity and develop targets for a future state
- ❗️ Measuring emissions is not "objective" and requires decisions to be made about which system of measurement to use and target setting to pay attention to. Target setting approach also influences what pathways an organization can consider in achieving its goals. For example, the Science Based Target initiative doesn’t recognize avoided emissions in the same way it recognizes removals.
What to measure: GHG Protocol
- The gold standard for accounting and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol provides a framework for businesses, governments, and other entities to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions in ways that support their missions and goals.
- GHG Protocol for Cities
The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) provides a robust framework for accounting and reporting city-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Mitigation Goal Standard
The GHG Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard provides guidance for designing national and subnational mitigation goals and a standardized approach for assessing and reporting progress toward goal achievement.
- Policy and Action Standard
The GHG Protocol Policy and Action Standard provides a standardized approach for estimating the greenhouse gas effect of policies and actions.
- Corporate Value Chain Standard
The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard allows companies to assess their entire value chain emissions impact and identify where to focus reduction activities.
- Product Life Cycle Standards
The Product Standard can be used to understand the full life cycle emissions of a product and focus efforts on the greatest GHG reduction opportunities. This is the first step towards more sustainable products.
- Project Standard
The most comprehensive, policy-neutral accounting tool for quantifying the greenhouse gas benefits of climate change mitigation projects.
- Corporate Accounting & Reporting Standard
The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard provides requirements and guidance for companies and other organizations, such as NGOs, government agencies, and universities, that are preparing a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory.
- The standard covers the accounting and reporting of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PCFs), Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
- ⚙️ Scope 1
Direct emissions from owned or
controlled sources (i.e. own operations)
- 🔥 Stationary combustion eg. office boilers, furnaces, and other heating sources.
- 💨 Fugitive emissions eg. leaks of greenhouse gases from refrigeration, air conditioning, and other devices.
- 🚗 Mobile combustion eg. vehicles owned and operated by an organisation.
- 🏭 Process emissions eg. emissions released during on-site manufacturing as a part of the production.
- ⚡️ Scope 2
Indirect emissions from consumption of purchased heat, steam and electricity
- 🔋 Grid supplied energy
- 🔥 Grid supplied heat
- 💦 Grid supplied steam
- ✈️ Scope 3
Indirect emissions that occur in the value chain (i.e. 3rd party)
- 🏭 Outsourced activities
- ✈️ Employee commutes & Business travel
- 🛍 Purchase of goods & services
- 🚚 Transportation & distribution
- ♻️ Waste management
- 🏢 Leased assets
- Emissions along the value chain represent the biggest GHG impact.
How to identify & calculate GHG emissions
- 1. Identify Sources
- 2. Select Calculation Approach
- 3. Collect Data and Choose Emission Factors
- 4. Apply Calculation Tools
- 5. Roll-up Data to Corporate Level
Reduce Your Emissions
- Insetting refers specifically to GHG reductions or carbon sequestration interventions that within a company's ‘sphere of influence’ ie. directly related to a company’s value chain, either by geography, production, or commodity. Instead of financing an existing project elsewhere through offsetting, insetting projects are developed with partners along the value chain and are tailored for the operations and impacts of the company.
- Insetting refers to a company offsetting its emissions through a carbon offset project within its own value chain.
- Why is this important? As much as 90% of a company’s climate impact is happening in its supply chain, and often in opaque, globally complex systems. Outsourced production means outsourced emissions. Insetting creates opportunities for action for companies looking to take a broader view of their boundary of responsibility.
- Insetting is an opportunity for businesses to link greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and carbon sequestration to their sourcing landscapes. This creates meaningful climate action that develops a sustainable land use model by protecting and valuing nature and results in benefits for people and local communities throughout a company’s value chain
- Carbon offsetting is a mechanism for companies to purchase carbon credits from projects that create a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases (GHG) in order to compensate, or offset, their unavoidable emissions.
- In a carbon offset project, emissions are avoided, reduced or sequestered upstream or downstream within the company's own value chain.
Carbon Markets & Trading
- Carbon trading is a market-based system designed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, especially carbon dioxide, by creating a financial incentive to do so.
The basic unit of trade for carbon credits and offsets is CO2e, the equivalent of one ton of carbon emissions that have been removed from the atmosphere.
- A carbon market allows investors, corporations and countries to trade both carbon credits and carbon offsets simultaneously.
- Countries that struggle to meet their emissions-reduction targets under their national climate plans (known as “nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs), or want to pursue less expensive emissions cuts, can purchase emissions reductions from other nations that have already cut their emissions more than the amount they had pledged, such as by transitioning to renewable energy.
- Carbon credits are generally transacted in the carbon compliance market.
- Carbon Credits
When a company buys a carbon credit from a regulator, they gain permission to generate one ton of CO2 emissions.
- The number of credits issued each year is typically based on emissions targets. Credits are frequently issued under what’s known as a “cap-and-trade” program.
- Regulators set a limit on carbon emissions – the cap. That cap slowly decreases over time, making it harder and harder for businesses to stay within that cap. Companies are thus incentivized to reduce the emissions their business operations produce to stay under their caps.
Companies with low emissions can sell their extra allowances to larger emitters in a compliance market.
- 💰 Buy
- 💰 Sell
- Carbon Offsets (or Offset Credits)
A carbon offset is defined as an instrument representing the reduction, avoidance or sequestration of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas equivalent.
- Offsetting carbon means an activity which reduces emissions to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
- The Voluntary Carbon Marketplace encompasses all transactions of carbon offsets that are not purchased with the intention to surrender into an active regulated carbon market.
When one company removes a unit of carbon from the atmosphere as part of their normal business activity, they can generate a carbon offset. Other companies can then purchase that carbon offset to reduce their own carbon footprint.
- 💰 Buy
- 💰 Sell
Organizations with operations that reduce the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere, say by planting more trees or investing in renewable energy, have the ability to issue carbon offsets. Many different types of businesses can create and sell carbon credits by reducing, capturing, and storing emissions through different processes.
- Renewable energy projects
- Energy efficiency improvements
- Carbon and methane capture
- Land use and reforestation projects
Resources & Sources
- IPCC Working Group 1 Report Assessment Review 6 (AR6)
- Climate Action Tracker
- Australia’s Long-Term Emissions Reduction Plan
- Rocket Boosters to Accelerate Climate Action: Why Article 6 of the Paris Agreement Matters
- Application of Gene Editing for Climate Change in Agriculture
- Carbon-dioxide Removal and Biodiversity: A Threat Identification Framework
- Ocean CDR:
- GHG Protocol
- Internation Platform for Insetting
- Energy and the environment explained
- Understanding Global Warming Potentials
- Paris climate summit primer: what are greenhouse gases?
- Soil C Sequestration as a Biological Negative Emission Strategy
- How carbon cycles into and out of soil. Jocelyn Lavallee, CC BY-ND
- I’ve heard of carbon offsetting, but what is ‘insetting’?
- Carbon & greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
and decarbonization primer focusing on agriculture. A curation of web resources for education purposes.
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