No, this chapter will not advocate placing your beloved kitty into some sort of carbon extracting contraption (I’m fairly sure these don’t exist). This chapter is about the emissions from places you probably don’t even think about, and how we can change them.
Roughly 40% of greenhouse gases (the lion’s share of global emissions) come from generating power, so it makes sense to start with reducing these. You’re likely well aware of how resource hungry it is to take a plane or drive everywhere, but did you know a whopping 5% of all emissions come from the production of cement? Or that the shipping industry is responsible for a similar amount as we buy goods from half way around the world? These are not the easiest things to change, but with collective action we can persuade our politicians to put pressure on these industries and provide incentives to be green. With help from some smart activists around the world, I’m going to show you how.
That’s one side of the carbon coin; the other is sequestration, and it’s about as sexy as it sounds. Sequestering carbon is the process of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, whether in plants and trees (they’re rather good at this sort of thing), rocks (like limestone), or otherwise tucked out of harm’s way for as long as possible. Many people think we won’t be able to meet our carbon goals without this process; a good few scientists are sceptical it will work on a large scale at all. So much for optimism.
But there’s hope, and it comes in bullet points:
- Many projects are trying to trap carbon at scale, including a method of cement production that sucks CO2 from the air, as well as – rather bizarrely – a ‘carbon capture carpet’ that stores more carbon than is used to produce it
- Natural climate solutions – restoring wetlands, changing how we use land, and many more – can provide a decent chunk of the reductions we need to keep us in the safe(-ish) two degrees zone of warming
- Sometimes, we can make a difference with the click of a mouse
If that list doesn’t fill you with all the joy of a newly sequestered carbon atom, it’s time we had some good examples.