Carbon emissions come from various sources, and these emissions can have serious environmental impacts. They are increasingly under stringent reporting regulation across the world to encourage organizations to do what they can to minimize their carbon output. We explore a few of the main sources of emissions here:
Fuel combustion is a significant emission source that can have environmental and health implications for businesses. When fuels like gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or coal are burned for energy production or transportation purposes, various emissions are released into the atmosphere. It's important for corporations to understand these emissions and their impacts.
Stationary fuel combustion refers to the burning of fuels in fixed or stationary sources such as power plants, industrial facilities, residential heating systems, and commercial boilers. These sources typically operate in a fixed location and are responsible for a significant portion of emissions.
Mobile fuel combustion refers to the burning of fuels in mobile sources, primarily for transportation purposes. This includes combustion in vehicles such as cars, trucks, ships, airplanes, trains, and off-road vehicles like construction machinery and agricultural equipment.
Emissions from mobile fuel combustion include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and other pollutants.
Process emissions refer to the release of pollutants and greenhouse gasses during various industrial processes. These emissions occur as a result of specific production activities, chemical reactions, or other industrial operations. Process emissions can arise from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, chemical production, oil refining, mining, and power generation.
Controlling and reducing industrial process emissions is crucial for promoting environmental sustainability and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Companies employ various strategies to minimize these emissions, such as:
Additionally, regulatory frameworks and emission standards play a role in monitoring and limiting industrial process emissions to protect the environment and public health.
Waste process emissions refer to the release of pollutants and greenhouse gasses that occur during the handling, treatment, and disposal of various types of waste. These emissions are associated with waste management practices and can occur at different stages of waste processing, including collection, transportation, treatment, and final disposal.
Agricultural emissions refer to the release of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and other pollutants that result from agricultural activities and practices. These emissions primarily arise from various processes involved in crop cultivation, livestock farming, and land use in the agricultural sector.
Fugitive emissions refer to the unintended or accidental release of gasses or pollutants from various sources, such as industrial processes, storage facilities, and transportation systems. These emissions can occur due to leaks, spills, venting, or other unintended releases during the handling, production, or transport of substances.
Carbon stock depletion refers to the reduction or loss of carbon stored in natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, and soils. Carbon stocks represent the amount of carbon stored in living biomass (trees, plants), dead organic matter (leaf litter, deadwood), and soil organic matter.
Various human activities, such as deforestation, land degradation, and land-use changes, can lead to the depletion of carbon stocks.
Carbon stock depletion through land use refers to the reduction in carbon stored in vegetation, soils, and other organic matter resulting from changes in land use practices. Land use activities can lead to the release of carbon stored in biomass and soils, contributing to increased greenhouse gas emissions. These activities include:
When forests are cleared or converted for agriculture, logging, or infrastructure development, the carbon stored in trees and vegetation is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).
Additionally, the disturbance of soils through practices like intensive agriculture, mining, or construction can accelerate the decomposition of organic matter, further releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Carbon stock depletion through land use change refers to the reduction in carbon stored in ecosystems resulting from the conversion of one land use type to another. This process involves transforming natural landscapes, such as forests, grasslands, or wetlands, into agricultural fields, urban areas, or other land uses.
The extent of carbon stock depletion through land use change depends on the type and intensity of land use conversion. Deforestation, particularly in tropical regions, is a major contributor to carbon stock depletion, as it results in the rapid release of carbon stored in large trees and the disruption of soil carbon stocks.
Greenhouse gasses (GHGs) refer to a group of gasses that are released into the atmosphere as a result of business activities These gasses have the ability to trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, leading to global warming and climate change - which comes as no surprise.
To address the urgent need to mitigate climate change, protocols and initiatives have been introduced to measure and reduce greenhouse gasses. Here, we explore a few of the main ones to be aware of.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is a widely recognized and widely used accounting and reporting standard for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in collaboration with various stakeholders.
The GHG Protocol provides a consistent and transparent framework for organizations to measure, quantify, and report their GHG emissions. It sets out guidelines and methodologies for identifying, calculating, and reporting emissions from various sources, including:
Find out more about the Greenhouse Gas Protocol
The Paris Agreement is a global climate agreement adopted under the UNFCCC. The Paris Agreement was introduced on December 12, 2015, during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) held in Paris, France. It was adopted by nearly all countries participating in the conference, making it a truly global agreement to address climate change.
It aims to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement encourages countries to submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs) outlining their climate action plans and promotes international cooperation on adaptation, mitigation, and financial support.
The term "Kyoto gasses" refers to the greenhouse gasses that are covered by the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement aimed at combating climate change. The Kyoto Protocol was created and adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The protocol was negotiated and developed by the international community through a series of meetings and discussions involving representatives from various countries.
It sets binding emission reduction targets for developed countries and establishes mechanisms to promote emission reductions and support sustainable development.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, participating developed countries agreed to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gasses. There are 6 kyoto gasses in total:
The Montreal Protocol - adopted on September 16, 1987 - is an international environmental treaty established to protect the Earth's ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of substances that deplete it - known as ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
The Montreal Protocol was designed to control and eliminate the production and use of ODS to safeguard the ozone layer and prevent harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the Earth's surface, and since its introduction has been put into action by a large number of countries. There are a few ozone-depleting substances that the Montreal Protocol is particularly concerned with reducing. They include:
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a group of synthetic chemical compounds composed of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine atoms. They gained extensive use across industrial and consumer sectors until their adverse impact on the ozone layer was uncovered.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs) were initially used as transitional substitutes for CFCs, but while they have lower ozone depletion potential by comparison, HFCs still contribute to ozone depletion. As a result, efforts have been made to phase these out as well, as can also be seen in the list of gasses covered by the Kyoto Protocol above.
Halons are a class of chemical compounds that were widely used as fire suppression agents due to their exceptional effectiveness in extinguishing fires.Alternative fire suppression agents have been developed and adopted such as clean agents (e.g., inert gasses like nitrogen and argon) and certain foam agents. Both provide effective fire suppression capabilities while minimizing the impact on the ozone layer and climate change.
Fluorinated ethers are a class of chemical compounds that contain fluorine and oxygen atoms. They are characterized by their unique chemical properties, including high chemical stability and low reactivity. Fluorinated ethers find applications in various industries and processes, such as:
Adhering to protocols designed to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHGs) brings several benefits to businesses and organizations, such as:
Adherence to these protocols enhances brand reputation and improves stakeholder perception. Consumers are increasingly concerned about climate change and are more likely to support companies that demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility. Adhering to GHG reduction protocols ensures that carbon accounting is accurate and comparable, enhancing a company's image, attracting environmentally conscious customers, and strengthening customer loyalty.
Adopting emission reduction measures often leads to cost savings and operational efficiencies. Energy efficiency improvements, waste reduction, and sustainable practices can result in lower energy and resource consumption, leading to reduced operational costs. Transitioning to renewable energy sources and sustainable technologies can provide long-term cost advantages while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
For international businesses in particular, applying GHG reduction protocols can enhance access to markets and business opportunities. Many countries and regions have regulatory frameworks and incentive programs that favor environmentally friendly businesses. By aligning with GHG reduction protocols, companies can enhance resilience, improve risk management, meet regulatory requirements, access green markets, and tap into emerging clean technologies.
Proactive GHG management can attract investment and financial support. Investors are increasingly considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their investment decisions. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices, this makes companies more attractive to ESG-focused investors and potentially unlocks new funding opportunities.
Minimum can help organizations to understand their existing carbon output, and create plans to mitigate climate related risks in the future. Our Emissions Data Platform seamlessly collects and processes emissions data from every corner of your organization and supply chain - no matter the format. Making it the ideal platform for emissions audits and all-round business intelligence.
Learn more about how Minimum's Emission Data Platform can help to power you all the way to Net Zero today.