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Decarbonization 101: What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?

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The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utility Council

Scopes of Carbon Emissions Share

What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?

With many countries and companies formalizing commitments to meeting the Paris Agreement carbon emissions reduction goals, the pressure to decarbonize is on.

A common commitment from organizations is a “net-zero” pledge to both reduce and balance carbon emissions with carbon offsets. Germany, France and the UK have already signed net-zero emissions laws targeting 2050, and the U.S. and Canada recently committed to synchronize efforts towards the same net-zero goal by 2050.

As organizations face mounting pressure from governments and consumers to decarbonize, they need to define the carbon emissions that make up their carbon footprints in order to measure and minimize them.

This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the three scopes of carbon emissions that make up a company’s carbon footprint.

The 3 Scopes of Carbon Emissions To Know

The most commonly used breakdown of a company’s carbon emissions are the three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The GHG Protocol separates carbon emissions into three buckets: emissions caused directly by the company, emissions caused by the company’s consumption of electricity, and emissions caused by activities in a company’s value chain.

Scope 1: Direct emissions

These emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by the company, and are generally the easiest to track and change. Scope 1 emissions include:

  • Factories
  • Facilities
  • Boilers
  • Furnaces
  • Company vehicles
  • Chemical production (not including biomass combustion)

Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions

These emissions are indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the company, which requires tracking both your company’s energy consumption and the relevant electrical output type and emissions from the supplying utility. Scope 2 emissions include:

  • Electricity use (e.g. lights, computers, machinery, heating, steam, cooling)
  • Emissions occur at the facility where electricity is generated (fossil fuel combustion, etc.)

Scope 3: Value chain emissions

These emissions include all other indirect GHG emissions occurring as a consequence of a company’s activities both upstream and downstream. They aren’t controlled or owned by the company, and many reporting bodies consider them optional to track, but they are often the largest source of a company’s carbon footprint and can be impacted in many different ways. Scope 3 emissions include:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Transportation and distribution
  • Investments
  • Employee commute
  • Business travel
  • Use and waste of products
  • Company waste disposal

The Carbon Emissions Not Measured

Most uses of the GHG Protocol by companies includes many of the most common and impactful greenhouse gases that were covered by the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol. These include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, as well as other gases and carbon-based compounds.

But the standard doesn’t include other emissions that either act as minor greenhouse gases or are harmful to other aspects of life, such as general pollutants or ozone depletion.

These are emissions that companies aren’t required to track in the pressure to decarbonize, but are still impactful and helpful to reduce:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCS): These are greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration systems and in fire suppression systems (alongside halons) that are regulated by the Montreal Protocol due to their contribution to ozone depletion.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx): These gases include nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and are caused by the combustion of fuels and act as a source of air pollution, contributing to the formation of smog and acid rain.
  • Halocarbons: These carbon-halogen compounds have been used historically as solvents, pesticides, refrigerants, adhesives, and plastics, and have been deemed a direct cause of global warming for their role in the depletion of the stratospheric ozone.

There are many different types of carbon emissions for companies (and governments) to consider, measure, and reduce on the path to decarbonization. But that means there are also many places to start.

National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.

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7 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Improving Healthcare

Aritifical Intelligence becoming increasingly more prevalent in healthcare. Here are 7 ways this growth might impact the industry as a whole.

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7 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Improving Healthcare

Emerging technologies have the potential to completely reshape the healthcare industry and the way people manage their health. In fact, tech innovation in healthcare and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) could provide more convenient, personalized care for patients.

It could also create substantially more value for the industry as a whole—up to $410 billion per year by 2025.

This graphic by RYAH MedTech explores the ways that technology, and more specifically AI, is transforming healthcare.

How is Technology Disrupting the Patient Experience?

Tech innovation is emerging across a wide range of medical applications.

Because of this, AI has the potential to impact every step of a patient’s journey—from early detection, to rehabilitation, and even follow-up appointments.

Here’s a look at each step in the patient journey, and how AI is expected to transform it:

1. Prevention

Wearables and apps track vast amounts of personal data, so in the future, AI could use that information to make health recommendations for patients. For example, AI could track the glucose levels of patients with diabetes to provide personalized, real-time health advice.

2. Early Detection

Devices like smartwatches, biosensors, and fitness trackers can monitor things like heart rate and respiratory patterns. Because of this, health apps could notify users of any abnormalities before conditions become critical.

Wearables could also have a huge impact on fall prevention among seniors. AI-enabled accelerometer bracelets and smart belts could detect early warning signs, such as low grip strength, hydration levels, and muscle mass.

3. Doctors Visits

A variety of smart devices have the potential to provide support for healthcare workers. For instance, voice technology could help transcribe clinical data, which would mean less administrative work for healthcare workers, giving them more time to focus on patient care.

Virtual assistants are expected to take off in the next decade. In fact, the healthcare virtual assistant market is projected to reach USD $2.8 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 27%.

4. Test Results

Traditionally, test results are analyzed manually, but AI has the potential to automate this process through pattern recognition. This would have a significant impact on infection testing.

5. Surgery / Hospital Visits

Research indicates that the use of robotics in surgery can save lives. In fact, one study found that robot assisted kidney surgeries saw a 52% increase in success rate.

Robotics can also support healthcare workers with repetitive tasks, such as restocking supplies, disinfecting patient rooms, and transporting medical equipment, which gives healthcare workers more time with their patients.

6. Rehabilitation

Personalized apps have significant care management potential. On the patient level, AI-enabled apps could be specifically tailored to individuals to track progress or adjust treatment plans based on real-time patient feedback.

On an industry level, data generated from users may have the potential to reduce costs on research and development, and improve the accuracy of clinical trials.

7. Follow-ups and Remote Monitoring

Virtual nurse apps can help patients stay accountable by consistently monitoring their own progress. This empowers patients by putting the control in their own hands.

This shift in power is already happening—for instance, a recent survey by Deloitte found that more than a third of respondents are willing to use at-home diagnostics, and more than half are comfortable telling their doctor when they disagree with them.

It’s All About the Experience

Through the use of wearables, smart devices, and personalized apps, patients are becoming increasingly more connected, and therefore less dependent on traditional healthcare.

However, as virtual care becomes more common, healthcare workers need to maintain a high quality of care. To do this, virtual training for physicians is critical, along with user-friendly platforms and intentionally designed apps to provide a seamless user experience.

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Antimony: A Mineral with a Critical Role in the Green Future

Despite its lack of fanfare, antimony is a critical mineral that plays an important role in the mass storage of renewable energy.

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Critical Mineral Antimony

Antimony: A Mineral with a Critical Role in the Green Future

If someone asked you to name the first mineral that came to mind, odds are, it wouldn’t be antimony.

Yet, despite its lack of fanfare, it plays a significant role in our day-to-day lives. This graphic from Perpetua Resources provides an overview of antimony’s key uses, and the critical role it plays in the movement towards clean energy, among other uses.

What even is Antimony?

Antimony is an element found in the earth’s crust. Rarely found in its native metallic form, it is primarily extracted from the sulfide mineral stibnite.

It has a variety of uses and is found in everything from household items to military-grade equipment. Because it conducts heat poorly, it’s used as a flame retardant in industrial uniforms, equipment, and even children’s clothing.

End Use% of antimony consumption in the U.S.
Flame retardant35%
Transportation and batteries29%
Chemicals16%
Ceramics and glass12%
Other8%

Its second most common use, according to USGS, is in transportation and batteries. Traditionally, antimony has been combined with lead to create a strong, corrosion-resistant metal alloy, which is particularly useful in lead-acid batteries.

However, recent innovation has found a new use for antimony—it now plays an essential role in large-scale renewable energy storage, which is critical to the clean energy movement.

Antimony’s Role in Clean Energy

Large-scale renewable energy storage has been a massive hurdle for the clean energy transition because it’s hard to consistently generate renewable power. For instance, wind and solar farms might have a surplus of energy on windy or sunny days, but can fall short when the weather isn’t sunny, or when the wind stops.

Because of this, mass storage of renewable energy is key, in order to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Recent research points to liquid metal batteries as a potential storage solution—and these batteries heavily rely on antimony.

But there’s a finite supply, and with China currently dominating antimony production and processing, the U.S. could be at the mercy of its economic rival.

CountryProduction in 2020 (tons)Reserves (tons)
China80,000480,000
Russia30,000350,000
Tajikistan28,00050,000
Bolivia3,000310,000
Turkey2,000100,000
Australia2,000140,000
United States---60,000

In 2020, there was no domestically mined production of antimony in America—meaning the U.S. relied on other countries, primarily China, for its antimony supply.

In the past, China has imposed restrictions on the exports of antimony-based products to the U.S., which reduced availability and increased prices. Because of this, antimony was identified as one of the 35 minerals that are critical to U.S. national security.

Tapping into Domestic Supply

To decrease foreign dependence, the U.S. could tap into domestic resources of antimony and build up its local supply chain.

The only major antimony deposit in North America is located in the Stibnite-Yellow Pine Mining District of central Idaho. This site is the largest reserve in the nation and is expected to supply roughly 35% of U.S. antimony demand on average for the first six years of production.

Domestic production would not only allow the U.S. to reduce its import reliance, but it would also create jobs, providing economic support for the local community.

In the near future, antimony demand could soar as a result of its critical role in clean energy storage—and domestic production via the Stibnite-Yellow Pine Mining district could play a key role in meeting this rising demand.

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