Despite the emphasis on ‘Carbon neutral’ at the recent COP-26 convention, many countries seem to be primarily concentrating on the Electrical emissions as they perhaps seem to be prominently forgetting that there are other sources as well. It has been estimated that while electricity’s contribution is just 25% Transportation (29%), Industry (23%), Agriculture 10% and commercial & residential contributes 13% to the overall emissions.
As can be seen above, transportation contributes 29% of GHG with almost 90% accounted by petroleum based (Gasoline and diesel) products. Industry accounts for 23% due to fossil fuel for energy and chemical reactions. Livestock, agricultural soils and rice production have been identified as responsible for emissions in the agriculture sector. Wastes and fossil fuels account for emissions in the commercial and residential sector.
When you hear renewables as an alternate to coal, one would probably feel relieved as coal would be replaced. Solar and Wind are the major players in the renewables that the world is banking on mostly. Unfortunately, their implications are still not clear at this stage especially on environment and the land requirement. It is indeed encouraging that both solar and wind technology seem to be improving day by day. We need to look at other options as well if we wish to reduce emissions from this sector in terms of Efficiency, end use energy efficiency, carbon capture & storage and even nuclear as an alternate.
Although these are a few broad categories of GHG emissions, there are several other activities under each of them that are responsible for carbon emissions which seem go out of record. It is therefore absolutely necessary for any attempt on strategies be carefully planned towards ‘Carbon Neutral’ goal so that nothing is left out- simple example here would be Solid waste generation of the residential sector which is assuming a greater threat to many of the cities at least in India.
The current options in each of these contributors may look attractive now but, we need to accept them with reservation as we are ignorant of the consequences in the long run. The option of electric vehicles in the transportation sector to reduce emissions for example, seems to appear great superficially but, if one gets into the details of life cycle of the batteries and their replacement over a longer phase in itself would present serious problem of handling the battery waste that are likely to be generated not only in one city but the entire country.
Considering the agriculture sector and particularly, rice production is restricted to only a few places not only in India but, also in other countries as well. It is the other agricultural aspects that deserve attention in combating the GHG emissions.
It is therefore clear that the solutions towards carbon reduction need to be holistic rather than confinement to a specific sector. We have in fact learnt considerably in our handling coal for our primary energy requirement and this with combined wisdom on the other sectors would certainly provide more or less a foolproof option towards carbon emission reduction