what are greenhouse gas emissions?
Greenhouse gases – like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, ozone and water vapour – in the atmosphere absorb heat, and thus increase atmospheric temperatures and cause global warming.
Carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e, is a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints, based on the relative global warming potential of different greenhouse gases.
Antarctic ice core data show that in pre-industrial eras atmospheric CO2 concentration was around 280 parts per million (ppm). (Palaeoclimate. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
Since industrialisation in the last 200 years, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere has risen - from 300 ppm in 1900, to 313 ppm in 1960, 375 ppm in 2005, and is currently 400 ppm (Atmospheric CO2 for May 2013, preliminary data, Mauna Loa Observatory: NOAA-ESRL).
For the past decade, we have overshot the maximum amount of carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere - 350 ppm - according to scientists (Hansen, James, et al. Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? Submitted April 7, 2008).
The increase is due to emissions of CO2 resulting from human activities (Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
As of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has set no atmospheric target for CO2 or any greenhouse gas. Based on the emissions reductions proposals that national governments made, atmospheric CO2 would rise from 400 ppm in 2013 to about 770 ppm by 2100.
- Global warming is the increase of the average temperature on earth
- Over the last 100 years, the average air temperature near the earth’s surface has risen by a little less than 1° Celsius (or 1.3° Fahrenheit)
- The warmest years on record are dominated by years from this millennium; each of the last 10 years (2001–2010) features as one of the 11 warmest on record. Although the National Climatic Data Centre temperature record begins in 1880, less accurate reconstructions of earlier temperatures suggest these years may be the warmest for several centuries to millennia.
- Projections from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say that global surface temperature will rise by up to a further 6.4 ° Celsius (11.5° Fahrenheit) during the 21st century
- Global warming causes climate change – the conspicuous increase in frequency and intensity of storms, floods, droughts and forest fires we have seen in recent years
- due to the amazing complexity of our earth’s climate system
- about whether mankind will fight to reduce global warming - or continue with business-as-usual
What we can be certain about is:
- a certain degree of global warming is unavoidable, even if we managed to stop our carbon emissions today
- the worst case scenarios for the majority of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists’ predictions have been exceeded - in every 5 year IPCC Assessment Report over the 20 years they have been producing these wide ranging and detailed assessments
- that is because the world has continued on a business-as-usual basis
- this is why we urgently need to decarbonise our economy
- contribute to the cause of climate change - through greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations, and through their supply chain, upstream and downstream
- are affected by the consequences of climate change - through more extreme weather events affecting business risks, continuity and costs
- can help to solve global warming – through innovation transforming their business model; inventing, early investing in or installing new low carbon technologies; changing behaviours of their staff, suppliers, and customers ....
To find out how your company can help the transformation to a sustainable low carbon economy contact us