09 July 2019

Achieving Net-Zero Carbon Emissions: What We Can Do Now for a Cleaner Future

Published in Releases and news

Neste

Written by Jeremy Baines

The science is clear: Carbon emissions from human activity contribute to greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change.[1] Therefore, policymakers, fleet managers, and every human on this planet must strive to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible to mitigate the profound environmental and financial consequences of climate change.

What’s at Stake—and What’s Being Done

There’s convincing evidence of the risks that climate change poses to our communities, our businesses, and to individuals. The National Climate Assessment warns that climate change could severely affect the U.S. economy, particularly in the agriculture, fishing, forestry, real estate, and tourism industries.[2] The potential repercussions could result in reduced income, higher taxes, and increased insurance premiums, not to mention profound environmental impacts. 

Some policymakers, businesses, and individuals are responding to the inherent risks of climate change. The state government in California leads the way in the United States by having the nation’s most proactive regulations for limiting carbon emissions. In 2018, California set a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Other governments and companies are also taking initiative, for example:

  • Baker Hughes, oil field services provider in Houston, Texas, pledged to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions for its worldwide operations by 2050.[3]
  • Eight U.S. cities (Newburyport, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Monica in California; and Washington, D.C.) committed to significantly cut carbon emissions by ensuring new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030.[4]

Navigating Toward a Poly-Fuel World

These declarations are indeed positive steps toward achieving net-zero carbon emissions, but the payoff is likely not going to be realized for years to come. We cannot afford to wait decades for the development of technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere, because the environmental and financial risks are too great. Closing the gap between historical and projected higher carbon levels[5] requires businesses, governments, and individuals to change their behaviors now.

Realistic solutions lead to a poly-fuel world in which multiple clean energy sources and technologies meet ever-growing demand and lower carbon emissions in economical ways. We can reduce our reliance on conventional fossil fuels today by replacing them with these alternatives:

  • Electric powertrains, biofuels and renewable diesel for transportation
  • Solar and wind for electricity generation
  • Natural gases and hydrogen for steelmaking and other manufacturing

In fact, some alternatives are already being adopted or are in the process of being adopted for immediate use in the future. For example:

  • California will require new homes after Jan. 1, 2020, to be built with solar, photovoltaic systems to generate electricity.[6]
  • Four U.S. states (Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota) generate about one-third of their energy from wind power.[7] Another 14 states meet more than 10 percent of their energy needs with wind power.[8]
  • Even heavy industries, like steelmaking, are striving to significantly lower carbon emissions by using hydrogen direct reduction (H-DR) to burn hydrogen gas instead of coal. The process emits only 2.8 percent of the carbon dioxide released by conventional blast furnaces.[9]

Renewable diesel is one fossil-fuel alternative that’s affordable, effective, and available now. Among the products is Neste MY Renewable Diesel™, a non-petroleum hydrocarbon fuel made from 100 percent renewable raw materials that include animal and plant waste. With Neste MY Renewable Diesel, carbon emissions can be lowered by as much as 80 percent.[10]

Exploring these alternatives is an important step in helping us avoid the significant negative impact of climate change on health, jobs, business growth, and the environment across our country and our world. We need to work together to adopt more solutions that deliver immediate results. Take charge now by investing in a suite of sustainable options that reliably provide energy and move us one step closer to achieving net-zero carbon emissions for good.

Jeremy Baines is vice president of sales for North America and the acting general manager at Neste US, Inc. Visit NesteMY.com for more information.

Sources

[1] Fourth National Climate Assessment, “Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” U.S. Global Change Research Program, November 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ (accessed February 12, 2019).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sergio Chapa, “Baker Hughes pledges net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050,” Houston Chronicle, January 30, 2019, https://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Baker-Hughes-pledges-net-zero-carbon-dioxide-13571151.php (accessed February 13, 2019).

[4] Construction Specifier, “Eight U.S. cities pledge to be net-zero carbon by 2030,” August 27, 2018, https://www.constructionspecifier.com/eight-u-s-cities-pledge-to-be-net-zero-carbon-by-2030/ (accessed February 13, 2019).

[5] Fourth National Climate Assessment, “Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” U.S. Global Change Research Program, November 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ (accessed February 12, 2019).

[6] California Energy Commission, “Tracking Progress: Renewable Energy,” October 2018, https://www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/tracking_progress/documents/renewable.pdf (accessed March 14, 2019).

[7] Olivia Rosane, “4 U.S. States With 30+ Percent Wind Power,” EcoWatch, August 28, 2018, https://www.ecowatch.com/wind-power-generation-states-2599843336.html (accessed March 14, 2019).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Valentin Vogl, Max Ahman, and Lars J. Nilsson, “Assessment of hydrogen direct reduction for fossil-free steelmaking,” Journal of Cleaner Production, August 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618326301 (accessed March 14, 2019).

[10] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator,” https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator (accessed October 30, 2018).