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Carbon Emission Solutions We Need

An oil refinery at Yokkaichi in Japan. Photo: Andrew Blyth, 2007.

Featured image: An oil refinery near Yokkaichi Japan. Photo by Andrew Blyth 2007.

The Northern Hemisphere has had it’s hottest and most disastrous summer. Australia is about to see the most disastrous summer since the very long 2019-2020 fire season. Weather now will be more extreme, less predictable, and more disasters. All due to carbon emissions from humanity creating climate change. It should be noted that scientists first started to notice, record, and model climate change back in the 1980’s, and alarm bells were ringing in the 1990’s. However, industries and politicians ignored and downplayed the warnings. So, this is where we find ourselves now.

Several sectors and activities are significant contributors to carbon dioxide emissions. Here are some of the biggest contributors along with suggestions on how to reduce or eliminate emissions:

A tree near Kinglake Victoria pushed over by extreme winds. Photo by Andrew Blyth for Travel Photos, 2021.
A fallen tree near Kinglake after a serious wind storm. Photo by Andrew Blyth for Travel Photos 2021.
  1. Energy Production: The burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for electricity and heat production is a major source of emissions. Solution: Transition to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower. Increase energy efficiency in power generation and distribution.
  2. Transportation: The combustion of petrol and diesel in cars, trucks, and planes is a major source of emissions. Solution: Promote electric vehicles (EVs) and expand EV charging infrastructure. Invest in public transportation (more trains, trams, electric bikes, electric scooters, etc) and encourage walking and cycling.
  3. Industry: Manufacturing processes and energy-intensive industries contribute to emissions through fossil fuel use and industrial processes. Factories have their own “boilers”, which produce their own electricity. These boilers burn fuel and emits carbon dioxide. Solution: Adopt cleaner technologies and more energy-efficient manufacturing processes. Implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) in heavy industries.
  4. Deforestation: The removal of forests releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. Solution: Protect existing forests and promote afforestation and reforestation projects. Implement sustainable forestry practices.
  5. Agriculture: Livestock emissions, methane from rice paddies, and synthetic fertiliser use all contribute to emissions. Animal-based diets require 18 times more land than a vegan diet – contributing to deforestation. A meat-eater contributes 50% more carbon emissions than a vegan does, simply by supporting animal agriculture. Solution: Promote sustainable farming practices, reduce meat and dairy consumption, and reforest unused grazing paddocks for CCS.
Cows in rural New South Wales, Australia. Photo: Andrew Blyth for Travel Photos, 2019.
Cows in rural New South Wales, Australia. Photo: Andrew Blyth for Travel Photos, 2019.
  1. Residential and Commercial Buildings: Energy used for heating, cooling, and lighting in buildings is a significant source of emissions. Solution: Improve energy efficiency in buildings through better insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and smart building technologies. Double-glazing windows and more insulation reduce energy loss. Improve rooftop solar panel adoptions, and use electric car batteries to provide power back to the house for night time needs.
  2. Waste: The decomposition of organic waste in landfills and the release of methane contribute to emissions. Solution: Increase recycling and composting, reduce food waste, and capture methane from landfills for energy production.
  3. Aviation and Shipping: International travel and trade are responsible for emissions from aviation and shipping. Solution: Develop more fuel-efficient aircraft and ships, explore alternative fuels, and implement emissions reduction measures for these sectors. Civil aviation has already started to use electric aircraft for initial pilot training. This electric aviation technology needs to be improved and expanded within the industry.
  4. Natural Gas Production, Coal, and Oil Extraction: Methane leaks during the extraction and transportation of natural gas are potent greenhouse gas emissions. Solution: The Victorian government has already banned all new household gas appliances, which is a positive step forward. However, the Federal Government still needs to stop approving new mining and extraction licenses, and roll back all licenses.
  5. Consumer Behaviour: The choices individuals make, including excessive consumption and energy use, contribute to emissions. However, 70% of emissions are from industry, not individuals. Together, we can make a difference, but industry must change. Solution: Legislate for industries to have sustainable consumption, reduce waste, choose energy-efficient products, and reduce resource consumption.
A training aircraft used by the RAAF. Note the emissions from the turboprop engine. Scenes at the Avalon International Airshow. Photo: Andrew Blyth for Travel Photos, 2023.

As you can tell, this is an urgent matter now. Reducing carbon emissions requires a comprehensive approach that involves changes in technology, policies, and individual behaviour. By addressing emissions from these major sources, society can significantly mitigate climate change.

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