For over twenty years, most countries have been meeting under the auspices of the UN for global climate summits. These “Conference of the Parties’ or COPs are held to address the ever-worsening issue of climate change.
COP21, held in Paris in 2015, led to 191 countries signing the now-famous Paris Agreement. They agreed to keep the increase in global warming to under 2°C, with a target of only a 1.5°C raise until 2050.
However, with the increase now expected to exceed these targets, more drastic measures need to be taken. Countries and businesses are now turning to “climate tech”, technology that mitigates the impact of climate change, to help reach ambitious targets.
COP26, which met in Scotland during October / November 2021, had a number of key objectives. Let’s examine the tangible goals and see if countries are keeping their promises.
Objective 1: Secure global net-zero emissions by 2050. Keep the 1.5°C global warming limit within reach, as per the 2015 Paris agreement
To achieve this target, global CO2 emissions need to be reduced by 50% by 2030. However, the United Nations estimates that current reduction plans will actually result in an increase of 2.7°C by the end of the century.
Objective 2: Raise $100bn in climate finance per year to support developing countries to combat local environmental issues, such as rising sea levels.
During the conference, it was noted “with deep regret” that total climate finance only reached $79.6 b in 2019. The main beneficiaries of this lower funding total are Asia (43%), Africa (26%) and the Americas (17%).
There was an agreement to consider further action to curb potent non-CO2 gases, such as methane. The parties also emphasized the importance of nature for both reducing emissions and building resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Methane emissions are the second largest contributor to global warming and the gas has a global warming potential over 80 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. But methane has a much shorter lifetime in the atmosphere, only twelve years, compared to CO2’s hundreds. Cutting methane emissions can thus lower temperatures quickly.
The principal sources of methane production in the US are naturally occurring/petrol systems (29%), agriculture (animal digestion) (25%), landfill sites (18%), and coal mining (10%).
At COP26, 104 countries agreed to cut their methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 by changing the way that energy is produced, recycling waste, and changing agriculture and eating habits.
Because of the lack of commitment to the main goal of reducing CO2 emissions, COP26 members agreed that all countries should strengthen their 2030 emissions reduction targets to at least align with their net-zero commitments. The deadline for the new targets has been set for the end of 2022.
Currently, worldwide CO2 emissions are expected to be 32 billion metric tonnes in 2021. If this continues, the global temperature will increase, sea levels will rise, habitats will change and the entire planet will be at risk.
It is clear that action is needed quickly to address the problem of excessive CO2 emissions.
The major sources of greenhouse gas emissions are:
Most of these sources are directly or indirectly involved in using fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas to create electricity.
It is estimated that using 1000kW hour (kWh) of electricity generates 0.709 metric tons of CO2. To put this into context, an electric dishwasher uses around 2 kWh per load and most ovens use around 2.3 kWh per hour.
The answer lies ultimately in reducing the dependency on energy, which will result in less energy production and a direct reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
All businesses can contribute to the CO2 target reductions. They need to examine their operations, move to renewable energy sources, reduce their dependence on transport, and, importantly, assess their own energy usage.
2020 saw a 5.8% drop in emissions worldwide, a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the demand for energy by commercial buildings and transportation. However, 2021 is expected to see an increase of 4.8% in emissions, almost canceling out the improvement the year before.
The energy consumption and sustainability issues are being addressed through the adoption of climate tech, technology that helps businesses reduce their impact in our changing climate. Sensor technologies are one of the most prominent.
Using advanced, state of the art, sensor technology to get data on daily building use provides a business with a baseline of their current energy consumption.
When combined with advanced analytics, sensor technology enables a company to identify excessive heating, energy loss through poor insulation, and other problem areas related to energy usage. This will allow them to make any necessary changes to their real estate, infrastructure and even ensure that facilities are optimally used through occupancy analysis.
Sensors from Disruptive Technologies are tiny, secure, robust, easy to use, and have a very long life expectancy. They can be used to collect different types of information including temperature, touch, proximity, water, and humidity at any location.
The sensors are extremely small and easy to install. By simply peeling the adhesive and sticking them in place, they can be located exactly where they are required. They monitor autonomously and securely transmit data to the cloud.
Once stored, the information is accessible through an API from anywhere in the world and can be treated by an analytics engine or partner application to provide near real-time reporting about energy consumption.
This means that a building can be quickly and easily retrofitted with these unobtrusive devices to capture data simply, effectively, and autonomously, providing companies with real-time and up-to-date information about their building environment.
The DT sensors, when combined with partner analytics systems, have already enabled many organizations to identify:
This kind of technology, once thought impossible, is now easily accessible and affordable. The performance of DT sensors, combined with partner analytics, provides granular data into energy inefficiencies, ineffective operations, and mismanaged space. By making data-driven changes and making their space intelligent, every business can now save time, money, and energy, and contribute to ambitious COP26 goals.
The clear indication from COP26 is that the current target reductions in CO2 emissions, needed to meet the Paris agreement objective, are not going to be achieved.
It is now more important than ever that governments, businesses, and people work together to combat global warming.
The focus must be on changes in energy production, reduced or changing transportation patterns, and a reduction in energy usage by everyone. Even small changes make a difference.
Retrofitting buildings with intelligent and cost-efficient sensors will give companies a clear insight into their baseline energy usage quickly and easily. The technology is now available to companies of all sizes. The time to act is now.
Through the use of analytical and reporting software, businesses can now have the necessary information to make informed decisions about how they can change their business and operational environment to reduce energy usage.
By working together, we can all move to a target of net-zero carbon emissions and maintain our buildings and planet healthily and sustainably.
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