Posted on Friday, 13th August 2021
In order to prevent the worst effects of climate change, we all have our part to play. In this blog, we take a look at why carbon awareness is key in the fight against climate change and what you can do to reduce your impact on the environment, protecting the planet for current and future generations.
Climate change, also known as the 'climate crisis' or 'global warming', is the process of the planet heating up due to the impact of humans. Global temperatures have been rising almost every year since the 1980s, with 2020 being the hottest on record. While some still deny climate change, or dispute the link between the climate and human actions, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is happening and is being made worse by our actions.
While having warmer weather might at first seem like a good thing, these rising temperatures will have devastating impacts on the planet if allowed to continue at the current rate. Rising sea-levels, the collapse of eco-systems, extreme weather, droughts and wildfires are just some of the potentially devastating repercussions of failing to act on climate change now.
The heating up of the planet is already causing disastrous events across the globe. Recent floods in Germany, wildfires in Turkey and large ice loss in Greenland are just some of the events being attributed to the knock-on effects of climate change.
The IPCC report released on Monday issued a stark warning for governments across the globe, saying climate change was at 'code red for humanity'. The UN report is a landmark study which looks a huge number of scientific studies on the climate and how we are damaging it. About the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said "If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But...there is no time for delay and no room for excuses".
While all this news can sound quite scary, all hope is not lost. There is still time for us to turn the tide on climate change and reduce the most extreme consequences. As individuals, businesses and communities we can all do our bit by increasing our carbon awareness in order to reduce our contribution to global warming.
The definition of carbon footprint is ‘the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.’ Basically, this is a measure of how your actions are causing the release of carbon into our atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
The release of excess CO2 into the atmosphere is one of the leading causes of climate change. This CO2, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, gets trapped in our atmosphere and causes the planet to heat up. This process is known as the ‘greenhouse effect’.
When looking to reduce your carbon footprint, first of all it’s important to be aware of what actions cause substantial carbon emissions. The things that are most likely to contribute to global warming are related to travel, diet, energy usage and waste.
The main contributor to global carbon emissions is the burning of fossil fuels, predominately used for how we travel. Planes emit a huge amount of carbon, so alternatives to air travel should be found wherever possible if you want to reduce your footprint. The advances of the internet mean that international travel may not be as necessary for work as it would be previously.
Personal cars are also a large contributor to carbon emissions. Using public transport such as buses and trains can help reduce your footprint, as will driving more energy efficient or fully electric vehicles. While all of these alternatives still emit carbon, they do so at a much lower rate. You could also try walking or cycling to work. The government are currently trying to encourage this by putting further investment in cycling lanes across the country.
One impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an increased number of people working remotely from home. This could inadvertently be a good thing for the environment, as it will mean less cars on the road due to fewer people needing to commute. Certain businesses may want to look into implementing more flexible working options to allow people to work from home and reduce their carbon footprint.
Certain organisations can also introduce measures to combat the carbon they release, such as planting trees (which convert CO2 into oxygen) or using carbon capture technologies. Both techniques seek to reverse the damage organisations do to the environment by counteracting the CO2 they produce. This can even lead to their work benefitting the environment by becoming carbon negative (taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than they put in).
Educating those around you on the importance of carbon awareness is crucial in the fight against climate change. Talking to friends and family to discuss ways you can live sustainable and carbon-efficient lives can be helpful for everyone.
As an employer, the best way to promote environmental awareness is to lead by example. By doing everything you can in your business to reduce your carbon emissions, it may inspire others to do the same and improve your public image. Training staff in environmental issues will also create a culture of sustainability in the workplace, reducing waste and allowing them to adapt to whatever the future may bring.
If you want to increase you or your staff’s knowledge of these issues, you may want to look at completing one of our environmental awareness training courses. We provide two NVQs, the NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Climate Change and Environmental Awareness and Level 2 Award in Understanding Carbon Awareness and Energy Management.
Both of these qualifications would be perfect for showing your organisation’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. If you want to find out more about our courses you can call our team on 0115 8970 529 or email us at [email protected].
Another key aspect of reducing the negative environmental impact of businesses is through promoting sustainable development. Sustainable development ensures we are only using natural resources within our means in a way which allows the planet to recover naturally.
Two key components of sustainable development are reducing waste and using reusable or recycled materials. Successful implementing both of these in your organisations work can greatly reduce your carbon footprint as less resources are required for your organisation to do their work effectively. How to ensure sustainability within your organisation will depend on the nature of your business, but could involve such simple measures as increasing recycling or reducing the use of plastic in your workplace.
For construction operations, this could involve using recycled or reusable materials in your building work. Estimates show that reducing construction waste could reduce carbon emissions by 10 times for businesses in this sector.
The construction industry is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. This is due to a number of reasons such as the amount of heavy machinery used, the amount of travel required to transport goods and the nature of the materials used. Estimates suggest building and construction operations account for 40% of all global CO2 emissions.
As an attempt to reduce the construction industry’s impact on the environment, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have set a 2050 target for the industry to produce net-zero carbon. This means that the industry would not emit any carbon into the atmosphere. This ambitious target requires every construction project and organisation have clear measures in place to reduce their carbon emissions. Having these in place may even help you to win large building contracts.
To meet these requirements, your organisation may benefit from completing training on how to reduce their environmental impact and understand it’s importance. The CITB Site Environmental Awareness Training Scheme (SEATS) course is an ideal course helping workers understand a range of environmental issues on construction sites and how to manage them. Find out more about this course in our blog ‘Environmental Awareness in Construction’.