February 2021

A new moon landing: climate neutrality for Europe

How to reduce carbon footprint - the path to climate neutrality

by Nicolo' Stoppino, DSP Product Sales

Close to the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the European Commission has approved an ever more ambitious agenda through the European Green Deal with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050 by establishing a plan to raise the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target to at least 50 percent by 2030 and toward 55 percent below 1990 levels.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Green Deal would be “like man landing on the moon” for Europe, as this pact would make Europe the first continent to achieve climate neutrality.

The Paris Agreement, an international legally binding agreement on climate change, will guide international environmental policy for many years to come. The main goal of the agreement, adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris on December 12, 2015, is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to peak global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.

The Paris Agreement is a milestone in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to take on ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Energy production and consumption is the largest source of global GHG emissions. The energy sector therefore plays a critical role in countries’ efforts to develop and implement long-term strategies to meet climate goals and safeguard the environment. Many international organizations, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), have assessed the impact of energy sector policies (buildings, industry, transportation, ports, etc.) on the projected path of GHG emissions, and the implications for achieving the global climate goal under the Paris Agreement.

The Special Report on Energy and Climate Change, part of the World Energy Outlook published by the IEA in 2015, found that while global energy-related emissions are expected to slow as a result of climate commitments, they will continue to increase due to increased global progress on electricity access. This report also suggests measures to be taken such as increasing energy efficiency in industry, buildings, and transportation.

Recognizing the need to address climate change, many governments have introduced legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several countries have implemented a range of legislation with specific energy measurement and control requirements or by indirectly encouraging the private sector to implement energy and environmental policies to reduce GHG emissions.

Furthermore, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) argues that energy efficiency offers a unique opportunity to reconcile economic competitiveness with sustainable development, while simultaneously reducing the cost of energy and increasing productivity. UNDP supports the implementation of business models and financing mechanisms to facilitate energy efficient investments by private sector partners. Key to all of these efforts to increase energy efficiency will be long-term planning, which countries should begin now.

In order to plan a long-term strategy, the first fundamental step is to carry out a constant measurement of energy consumption, which is of fundamental importance in the industrial environment, especially for large companies and energy-intensive industries, as it provides continuous monitoring of process data, which is crucial for countries’ legal compliance. For industrial sectors, energy monitoring is a fundamental tool in a regulatory framework for large companies that are obliged to make an energy diagnosis (energy audit) or to certify an Energy Management System (ISO 50001). The management of energy consumption and its monitoring are valuable tools to define in real time their own ‘carbon footprint’ and thus strive to achieve the objectives set by the Paris Agreement.

Creating an effective monitoring and management system for energy and environmental vectors is not just a regulatory requirement, but an essential step to reduce energy costs without causing waste, environmental damage and unnecessary losses to businesses.

Successful companies recognize the link between data collection, analysis, evaluation, and business growth. As a result, successful businesses continuously monitor and evaluate key business performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales growth, net profit margin, and market trends. Likewise, enterprises also monitor and measure energy and environmental KPIs to ensure legal compliance, reduce costs, meet customer needs and expectations, and promote proactive environmental stewardship.

Energy data is one of the most readily available datasets that businesses have access to: it is reported on monthly statements from energy suppliers and can be easily monitored through meter readings. In reality, it can be seen that data from various energy and environmental vectors are most often underestimated, not to say not considered at all. Consumption and/or costs are estimated in an approximate way, based on experience or obsolete economic models, making approximate comparisons with plants, machinery that has totally changed over time, but most companies fail to take the additional step and analyze the data for trends and evaluate the relevance for the organization. Energy data analysis and evaluation can help with environmental legal compliance, reducing carbon footprint, increasing savings and promoting positive corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Monitoring systems eliminate uncertainties, most companies that have embarked on the path of energy monitoring, have changed their approach to consumption management and introduce the knowledge that good management of energy and environmental parameters, can save considerable amounts of money in the medium to long term and increase their competitiveness in the sector in which their business is located, in addition to the reputational and environmental benefit that comes with it.

In conclusion, the competitiveness of modern companies also passes inevitably through the reduction and optimization of energy costs and environmental parameters. In order to improve energy flows, reduce and optimize operating costs related to energy use, it is necessary for the company’s management to have an intuitive and reliable control tool capable of providing intelligent and real-time information.

Look at DSP solutions for environmental and energy monitoring: GREEN + and POWERGY+

Sources:

UNDP-Energy Efficiency

Von der Leyen speech-European Green Deal

Greenhouse Gas Protocol