What Does Decarbonization Look Like and Can It Ever Be a Reality?
by Jane Marsh
Global warming is a pressing challenge that affects everyone, so countries have united to reduce carbon emissions. The pollution directly warms the climate, but the efforts could be more effective. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the world’s CO2 emissions increased by 5% in 2021, so what does decarbonization really look like, and can it ever be a reality?
These are a few strategies countries' governments and the public can take to make decarbonization efforts more effective. Updating existing policies, plans, and lifestyles is the best way to adapt to the changing climate and ensure a better future.
1. America Must Take More Responsibility
Everyone’s heard that they should turn their lights off and minimize their carbon footprint to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Although that’s helpful on a small scale, countries should take an equitable amount of responsibility commensurate with their carbon output.
The latest research shows that the U.S. is the most responsible country for climate change based on annual CO2 emissions, but it isn’t outperforming other nations in terms of decarbonization.
Federal policies and updated laws could improve this issue. It may become a reality if representatives focusing on combating climate change become the dominant voice in both branches of the U.S. Congress.
2. Materials Should Withstand the Current Climate
Unfortunately, decarbonization won’t happen overnight. It won’t even end after a few months. It will take years to reverse the environmental damage from carbon emissions, so people should keep themselves safe from the results of climate change with updated housing and industrial materials.
Construction and technology supplies should be durable against the intense weather systems while people fight climate change to help them withstand the current effects. Extreme weatherization treatments for technologies like broadband will prevent problems like UV degradation that disrupt lifestyles and businesses.
Creating resilient technologies against the risks posed by climate change will become standard for people as businesses and their clients become more aware of the advanced materials available today. People are likely not choosing weatherized supplies because they don’t understand all their options.
3. Construction Policies Will Adapt
Decarbonization efforts must also consider the environmental harm created by construction methods. Active sites produce forms of pollution that layer on top of the problem with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They currently produce 23% of America’s air pollution due to fumes and particulate matter, which hurts the environment and the health of local individuals.
If construction companies enact eco-friendly policies, the standard operating procedures will create less pollution whether or not they also purchase sustainable materials.
4. Federal Law Must Address Corporations
Corporations in numerous industries have a significant role in adding carbon to the atmosphere. Researchers estimate that 100 energy companies create 71% of all industrial emissions due to their reliance on electricity and fossil fuels. The food and beverage industry is responsible as well. They emit more carbon dioxide than all of Australia by producing 630 million metric tons of CO2 each year.
Federal laws could become stronger to encourage and enforce greenhouse gas emission reduction by corporations. Unless their shareholders change their minds, it’s the only reliable way to make decarbonization a reality for corporate pollution.
5. Green Technology Will Become Easily Accessible
Many facets of daily life increase carbon footprints for individuals and further climate change. As technology advances, green alternatives should become easily accessible.
The average price for an electric vehicle is $56,437, which is difficult for many people to afford. Lower- and middle-class consumers spend $3,634 on new or used vehicles after trading in their existing cars. If this green alternative becomes affordable, fossil fuel decarbonization will advance much more quickly.
Consumers are also more likely to consider solar power for their homes, but it isn’t a common feature in U.S. neighborhoods yet. Between 2010 and 2019, the increased production of solar power technologies caused the average price to drop by two-thirds of the 2010 installation cost. People who support this shift by buying solar panels and other green technologies will demonstrate consumer interest and cause further price decreases as production meets demand.
Decarbonization will require easily affordable and accessible green technology for individuals in addition to corporations. Given that there were 286.9 million registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2020 and millions of others rely on electric grids for their homes, helping people switch to green technology will drastically reduce emissions.
It will also make people safer, given that 70% of electricity transmission lines are over 25 years old and power plants are more than three decades old. Updating everything will ensure a safer, greener future for everyone.
Decarbonize for a Greener Future
Decarbonization can become a reality if people, corporations, and governments approach it from a multi-faceted perspective. Carbon emissions occur at all levels, so the environment will begin to heal if everyone takes responsibility by initiating long-term change. These strategies are just a few ways for people to join efforts and reverse climate change.
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of
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