One often hears the term “reducing the carbon footprint” by using solar or wind energy. What does it mean? The use of fossil fuels as the main source of energy for most countries has caused several negative impacts on the environment, such as global warming and air pollution. Air pollution causes many health problems, causing negative social and economic effects.
What is carbon footprint ?
By definition, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with all the activities of a person or other entity (e.g., a building, corporation, state, etc.). It includes direct emissions, such as those resulting from the burning of fossil fuels in production, heating, and transport, as well as emissions needed to produce electricity associated with goods and services consumed. In addition, the concept of carbon footprint also often includes emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, nitrous oxide, or chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Formulas can easily represent the burning of carbon. Combustion of coal: C+O2 = CO2.
The concept of the “carbon footprint” is related to and grew out of the older idea of the “ecological footprint,” a concept coined in the early 1990s by Canadian environmentalist William Rees and Swiss-born regional planner Mathis Wackernagel of the University of British Columbia.
The ecological footprint is the total area of land required to sustain an activity or population. It includes environmental impacts, such as water use and the amount of land used for food production. In contrast, the carbon footprint is usually expressed as a measure of weight, as in tons of CO2 or CO2 tons per year. The carbon footprint per capita is highest in the United States, China, and India. The average carbon footprint per capita is the next very important quantity. Averages vary widely around the world, with higher footprints generally found among residents of developed countries.
Carbon dioxide, as we all know, is the main cause of the greenhouse effect. Planet Earth receives a certain amount of radiation from the sun and heats up. The planet should reflect a portion of that energy back into space to maintain the balance of the heating-cooling system. But the increased content of some gases in the atmosphere (carbon dioxide and methane) does not allow this, returning the reflected energy back to the earth’s surface. This leads to unnecessary, additional, and burdensome heating of the earth. This effect, called global warming, is very harmful because it disrupts the climate and ecological balance on the planet.
Particulare metter (PMx)
In addition to harmful gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and others, we also have small particles created by burning non-carbon elements or in other ways, which are especially dangerous for small children. Scientists refer to these particles as “particulate matter.” They classify and mark these particles by size, indicating the radius in micrometers. The size of PM particles is indicated. The size can vary from 2.5 to 10. For example, PM2.5 represents particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which means that it is about 3% of the diameter of a human hair. These particles are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope. Fine particles are called so because they are smaller than PM10 particles, which are 10 micrometers in size. Fine particles can come from many sources, such as power plants, heating plants, individual combustion plants (coal is the worst type of solid fuel), motor vehicles, aircraft, wood burning, forest fires, field burning, volcanic eruptions, and sand storms.
Exposure to PM2.5 for a period of several hours to several weeks can cause cardiovascular diseases, even with a fatal outcome.
Long-term exposure to fine particles (e.g., several years) increases mortality from cardiovascular disease to a much greater extent than exposure for a few days and also reduces population life expectancy by several months to several years. Air pollution poses a great risk to children’s health. In 2019, 5,801 children and teenagers in 52 countries in Europe and Central Asia died from causes related to air pollution. Many more suffered health and developmental consequences from breathing polluted air, including non-fatal illnesses, hospitalizations, and disabilities. About 85 percent of under-20s who died from causes linked to air pollution in Europe and Central Asia in 2019 did so before their first birthday, representing the deaths of 4,917 babies.
On the image left, we display the appearance of PM particles under a microscope. The Brazilian Journal of Biology is the owner of this display. The difference in structure between them is because each particle is composed of a mixture of liquid and solid material. Soot particles will appear different because they contain heavy metals like lead.
Decarbonization target by 2050
World leaders reached an agreement in Paris in 2015 to halt the general pollution of the earth’s atmosphere and prevent the destruction of humanity and the living world on the planet. The plan calls for achieving certain objectives by 2030. The plan includes a minimum decarbonization target for 2050. 196 countries signed and adopted this agreement. The overall goal of the historic Paris Agreement is to reduce global warming and limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The goals are also to reduce PM10 by 40% and PM2.5 by 45% between 2010 and 2050.
Example : Chinese government polycy
Chinese government policy plays a major role in the long-term and more permanent decline in SO2 emissions through modifying the industrial structure, switching to cleaner energy sources, limiting population growth, and regulating the number and emissions of vehicles. The reforms introduced in China’s economic structure, with the aim of reducing the share of secondary industry, show that the policies implemented by the government are the main driver of the improvement of air quality. This justifies the need to comprehensively consider supply chains in policymaking to mitigate the negative health impacts of air pollution in China.
The global carbon footprint must decrease from the current 55 billion metric tons of CO2 to 8.5 billion metric tons per year by 2050. If we want to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees, we need to achieve half of this reduction by 2030. You can calculate for yourself how much time we still have. Fossil fuels’ uneven distribution raises concerns about energy security due to their key role in today’s energy production systems, in addition to environmental and health concerns. Moreover, they are non-renewable resources, which poses the problem of their availability for this and future generations. We should avoid completely depleting them. Fossil fuels will be indispensable to humanity as long as they exist. A drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels would contribute to reducing the impact on the environment. Market and price instability is also a drawback of their use, causing negative economic impacts.
How solar panels can help reduce the CO2 footprint in cities
Solar panels are an effective solution to reduce carbon footprints.Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to reach the goals of the fastest and most efficient reduction of the “carbon footprint” as well as the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must reach for renewable energy sources, especially in large cities and industrial facilities. They are the biggest consumers of oxygen and the biggest sources of pollution. An ounce of energy is a clean, natural, and renewable source. Solar panels reduce carbon emissions by producing electricity from sunlight, which is a clean and renewable source of energy. This means that solar panels do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions during their operation, unlike fossil fuel power plants. By using solar panels to generate electricity, less electricity needs to be generated from fossil fuel sources, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar panels are an effective solution for reducing your carbon footprint. Solar panels are a very cost-effective means of increasing renewable energy production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar panels on roofs in city
.We conclude that the implementation of solar panels on the roofs of buildings and industrial facilities should be part of a balanced approach to energy production. Maximum use of the roofs of buildings and industrial plants, parking lots, warehouses, and every convenient place in cities would reduce electricity consumption during the day. Storing electricity and changing the way it is used would be the next step. Another big problem is transportation.
Solar panels in city can do much with “transportation problem”
Vehicles with internal combustion engines dominate road traffic today. Despite improvements in vehicle engines, the problem of pollution from motor vehicles cannot be completely eliminated. Suggest changing travel behavior and adopting advanced vehicle and fuel technologies (biodisel), along with reducing travel demand and optimizing roads. However, there are no concrete ideas about the potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
Humanity will need fossil fuels in the decades to come. We urgently need to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels for two reasons. Solar energy should be used as much as possible, especially in cities, to solve the necessary evil of using fossil fuels to generate electricity. The use of fossil energy for transport is still the main option.