30 July 2021

Reverse the climate change outcome by choosing zero impact solutions

Human activities have a weight, production plants leave a footprint. Any action, product or process has an impact, more or less sustainable, with which we must deal in the present. But before evening these out, we must deal with them: emissions to hand.

There are various stages, before dropping to zero in the balance of our impact on the planet.

The Paris Agreement, which the European Union and 195 countries have signed with a view to achieving zero emissions by 2050, requires us to do so: the halfway point of the twenty-first century, the main cause of planetary pollution but also the decisive turning point to revive the fate of the future, here and now.

Rethink, reduce, compensate, zero. These are the three phases that explain the rules of the real world championship: the one where we are all involved on the pitch, scoring goals for the same result.

Necessary... but not sufficient. Yes, because to reduce you must first know how much you pollute, to compensate you need to have implemented all the corrective measures, to be sure that only the inevitable residual amount of CO2 is left in your hands when talking of production. Investing in research on raw materials, making courageous packaging choices, analysing and improving processes.

It is essential to decide concretely on the basis of what is introduced into the world: in short, to know one's limits to be able to set further ones. Not ones that deprive, but ones that encourage.

Carbon footprint, carbon budget: the vocabulary of climate impact

To combat climate change we need to be many, to work together and to think in favour of the community. This explains the choice of resorting to an international language.

Although you have heard them repeated many times, have you ever really wondered what the watchwords of the European Green Deal meant?

Let's start from the basics, from perhaps the most timeworn expression. What does carbon footprint mean? Literally it is the carbon footprint, the amount of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions generated by the volume of an activity. The direct or indirect sign, so to speak, of our passage.

Once this value has been measured, however, we need to move on to facts and establish a carbon budget. This is none other than the balance in terms of CO2, the limit threshold of emissions that we can afford to discharge into the atmosphere to have a chance of falling within the parameters imposed by the Paris Agreement and of contributing to the (positive) change of course.

In order to calculate the carbon footprint it is necessary to analyse point by point, detail by detail, the life cycle of the product or activity under examination. This study is called Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and takes into consideration all the phases of the process: from the extraction of raw materials, then moving on to manufacturing, transport, distribution, use, reuse, maintenance and, finally, disposal.

Given all this, we are ready to explain carbon neutrality.

Fact check: the (vast amount of) CO2 is fought with reduction, optimisation and compensation

That global warming has been a process that has been going on for several years is beyond doubt.

According to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), however, we will be able to reach zero emissions in 2050 only if we keep the temperature increase within 1.5°.

But, above all, staying below this threshold would stop the relentless rise in sea levels, the increasingly frequent occurrence of extreme weather, the acidification of the oceans and the fiery heat waves.

In order to comply with the Green Deal we should cut global emissions by 7.6% every year through out the entire 2020-2030 decade. In order to have an idea of this challenging objective, just take into account how much they collapsed in 2020 with an ongoing pandemic: 7%. To be able to maintain - and overcome - a trend of this type, therefore, much more needs to be done in terms of choices. By reducing, making processes efficient and compensating.

Not to mention that climate-friendly investments can generate millions of new jobs, higher quality of health and resilient infrastructures.

In a nutshell, our way towards 2050 has an intermediate target set for 2030: -55% emissions. And to achieve this we need to accelerate immediately: reducing waste and doing it soon.

 

Compensating: the solution to reduce the inevitable impact

In relationships, shortcomings are compensated by other attention. As with any other relationship, the one between human beings and planet earth rests its foundations on a delicate equilibrium and the need to… balance the accounts.

There is a quota of polluting emissions that is impossible to eliminate. To give an example, the one related to transport and shipping. On that portion of CO2 it is not possible to intervene with reduction, efficiency or zeroing actions, but it is possible to choose to transform it into virtuous projects such as reforestation or, again, the development of alternative and renewable energies.

In essence, that percentage of residual pollution can be transformed into active sustainability initiatives in some corner of the world, giving shape and substance to dreams of environmental, social, economic and technological development, especially in areas where this struggles to break through.

Do you remember the environmental disaster of the Amazon, with hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest devoured by the malicious flames released by human unreason? What is destabilising is that, to date, the Earth’s lung emits more carbon dioxide than it can store. We are talking about one of the vital sinks for the planet's climate balance. The guarantor of our ecosystem, the undeserved compensation in nature that alleviates the impact of human exploitation on the planet that hosts us.

Well, today it is not breathing anymore. «Areas where deforestation is 30% or more show carbon emissions 10 times higher than those where deforestation is less than 20%»: says a very recent study by Nature. And reforesting is just one of the actions we can embrace to find oxygen, along the descent to a zero impact.

The “residual share” of Oway, which has always chosen to act

Compensation is necessary, but only after having done everything in our power to reduce waste, embrace circular decisions and show that, in the face of change, one must never stop. 

For many years here at Oway we have chosen to take the path with least impact through eco-design, “0” km raw materials from organic and biodynamic agriculture, renewables, 100% infinitely recyclable containers, zero overpackaging and, only at end, compensation projects. A system of values which, as the Netcomm Award recently acknowledged, is transformed every day into concreteness. 

In 2020 Oway chose to fly to the north of India - a land of fragrances, a temple of the five senses and a triumph of fabrics and colours - with a project that is based on the installation of two cogeneration systems for the production of electricity and heat destined for local consumption.

In the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, there is an abundance of fuel that does not emit CO2 into the atmosphere; this is rice husk, the hard shell that covers the grains. Biomass, therefore: the fuel of our times that allows to mitigate emissions, to leave coal aside, to offer an investment opportunity to the populations involved in the creation of the plant and to suggest the choice of green technologies, with long-term benefits.

For transport and shipping, but also through them.

Yes, because for every ton of CO2 produced by a package during transport, an equivalent amount of CO2 is saved by a certified project to reduce emissions in other parts of the world. 

After all, compensating is part of activism. Of the circular revolution that has always been at the centre of our world.

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