Professions need to move to net zero to minimize negative impacts on climate and the environment
Emissions scope under greenhouse gas accounting (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Climate change stands as one of humanity's greatest challenges in the 21st century. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report in 2018, to limit the global average temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era, there's a need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Net zero is a concept denoting a state where the amount of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere equals the amount removed or absorbed. This is an ambitious yet crucial goal to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on human life and development.
Global carbon dioxide emissions from 1970 to 2022, by sector (Source: www.statista.com)
To achieve the net-zero goal, the participation and contributions of all stakeholders, from governments and businesses to individuals, are necessary. In this article, we will focus on the role of industries in the net-zero transition, particularly those with high GHG emissions or significant potential for GHG reduction. We'll introduce some representative industries, measures, and technologies supporting the net-zero transition, as well as challenges and opportunities for these industries.
Energy is the sector with the largest GHG emissions in Vietnam and globally. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2019, the energy sector accounted for 53.4% of Vietnam's total GHG emissions, primarily from the electricity industry. Globally, the energy sector represents about 73% of total GHG emissions, with 42% coming from the electricity industry. The main reason is heavy reliance on fossil energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas; burning these fuels emits significant amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
To transition to net zero, the energy sector needs to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the utilization of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower. These energy sources have the advantages of being clean, sustainable, cost-effective, and have significant development potential in Vietnam and many other countries. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam plans to increase the proportion of renewable energy to 15-20% by 2030 and 25-30% by 2045. Many other countries worldwide are also aggressively promoting renewable energy development, such as China, India, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the energy sector needs to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and waste in the production, transmission, and usage processes. Measures that can be implemented include technological improvements, infrastructure upgrades, replacing outdated equipment, implementing energy-saving standards and policies, and enhancing user awareness. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, a 4% annual increase in energy efficiency could reduce GHG emissions from the energy sector by 40% by 2050.
Another direction for the energy sector involves using technologies to capture or remove CO2 from the atmosphere, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon capture and utilization (CCU), or employing artificial CO2 removal devices. These technologies could help reduce CO2 emissions from fossil energy sources or even create carbon-negative energy, removing more CO2 than emitting. However, these technologies still face limitations in terms of cost, efficiency, safety, and scalability.
The industry is the second-highest GHG-emitting sector in Vietnam and globally. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2019, the industrial sector accounted for 33.3% of Vietnam's total GHG emissions, primarily from steel, cement, chemicals, and paper manufacturing. Globally, the industrial sector represents about 24% of total GHG emissions, with 40% coming from steel, cement, chemicals, and aluminum production. The main reasons are the extensive use of fossil fuels as energy and raw materials and production processes that significantly impact the environment.
To reduce GHG emissions from the industrial sector, measures such as optimizing production processes, using recycled and reused materials, and employing clean and efficient technologies are necessary. In the steel industry, using blast furnaces instead of conventional furnaces could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the cement industry, replacing clinker with alternative materials can decrease CO2 emissions from the heating process. Additionally, waste and wastewater management play vital roles in reducing adverse environmental impacts.
The transportation sector contributes significantly to GHG emissions from fossil fuels. Cars, airplanes, and trains emit substantial amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. To reduce emissions from this sector, measures such as transitioning to cleaner fuels like electricity, hydrogen, or biofuels can be applied. Encouraging the use of public transportation, bicycles, and walking is also an effective solution to reduce emissions from personal vehicles.
Electric vehicle technology is becoming a crucial trend in the transportation sector. Many leading automakers have heavily invested in researching and developing electric vehicle models to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Furthermore, the development of clean and efficient infrastructure for electric vehicles is key to promoting this transition.
Waste from livestock farming contributes to increasing greenhouse gas emissions (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Although the agricultural sector provides food for the global population, it is also a significant source of GHG emissions. Livestock farming, chemical fertilizer production, and deforestation for agricultural expansion all contribute to emissions from the agricultural sector.
To transition to a net-zero model, farmers can use sustainable farming methods such as organic farming, natural fertilizer use, and efficient water resource management. Investing in research and developing innovative solutions, such as drought-resistant crops, is also an essential direction to mitigate the environmental impact of the agricultural sector.
The construction industry plays a crucial role in reducing negative environmental impacts. Using recycled building materials, optimizing construction processes, and integrating renewable energy sources into projects are important for minimizing environmental impacts from the construction industry. Additionally, designing structures that optimize energy use and enhance resilience to climate change is essential.
Information Technology and Communication Industry
The information technology and communication industry are playing a significant role in supporting the transition to net zero. Information technology can be used to manage energy efficiently, optimize work processes, and reduce adverse environmental impacts. Moreover, technology companies can contribute to developing innovative solutions to minimize the environmental and climate impact.
As we face the significant challenges of climate change, transitioning to a net-zero model requires collaboration from all stakeholders. Key industries such as energy, industry, transportation, agriculture, construction, and information technology and communication need to promote innovative measures and technologies to reduce adverse impacts on climate and the environment. Additionally, support from governments, international organizations, and communities is crucial to ensure that we can achieve net-zero goals and protect our planet for future generations.