Carbon emission is one of the main causes of global warming. Sadly our daily activities of electricity and commuting with a fossil fuel vehicle release carbon into the air causing them to be trapped in the atmosphere.
Indonesia was the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses back in 2015. According to Carbon Brief, Indonesia’s emissions are mostly due to peatland mega-fires that oil palm farmers cause after each harvest and to a lesser extent, the burning of fossil fuels. The release of these gasses into the earth’s atmosphere greatly affects people’s health and in the future, our food security.
In 2021, President Joko Widodo officially passed the Presidential Regulation (Perpres) on the Economic Value of Carbon (NEK). This regulation is passed with the hope to reduce Indonesia’s carbon emissions by 41% by 2030.
Definition and causes of carbon emissions
Carbon emission occurs when compounds containing carbon are combusted, producing carbon dioxide. These include day-to-day activities of turning on the gas, burning logs and coals for heat and electricity, and using cars and motorcycles. So in general, when we’re talking about carbon emissions, we are talking about carbon dioxide being released into the earth’s atmosphere.
As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide absorbs and radiates heat. On a lower amount than what it is now, carbon dioxide helps absorb the thermal infrared energy that radiates from earth’s land and ocean surfaces that is warmed by sunlight. Without this natural greenhouse effect, the earth’s average annual temperature would be below freezing. But as human activities of burning fossil fuels continue, there is more carbon being released than the ones being naturally absorbed, resulting in additional heat being trapped in the atmosphere and raising the earth’s average temperature.
Dangers of carbon emissions
Carbon dioxide is an essential part of the earth’s atmosphere and through a natural process of photosynthesis, it produces oxygen for us to breathe. But the overproduction of them causes more harm than good.
While carbon dioxide absorbs less heat per molecule than other greenhouse gasses such as methane or nitrous oxide, it is more abundant and stays in the atmosphere much longer. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American scientific and regulatory agency, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing the earth’s temperature to rise.
Another danger of carbon emission is the effect it has on the ocean’s pH level. The released carbon dioxide reacts with water molecules, producing carbonic acid and lowering the ocean’s pH or raising its acidity. This lowering of oceans’ pH level is called ocean acidification, and it affects the marines life’s ability to extract the water to build their shells and skeleton. The marine life affected by ocean acidification includes corals, oysters, clams, snails, phytoplankton, and zooplankton; the tiny plants, and animals that form the base of marine food webs. Disruption of the marine food webs can cause rippling effects that threaten other marine life.
Simple ways to help reduce carbon footprint
Carbon footprint can be reduced by improving energy efficiency on all levels. From households to offices and most important, factories. More efficient use of energy can include things like installing energy-efficient lighting, using renewable energy, adding insulation or more windows to replace the need for heating or air conditioner, and doing proper maintenance on machinery and electronics to ensure safety and reduce malfunction.
On a day-to-day level, we can help to individually reduce carbon emissions by changing our lifestyle little by little. Firstly, we can start using fewer fossil fuel vehicles or opt for ones that produce less carbon. Commuting with carpool or public transportation allows the number of carbon emissions to be reduced. For example, a train emits 14g of carbon per kilometer, compared to 104g for a car.
Another way is to start thinking about what we consume and use daily. For example, rather than forgetting and buying a reusable bag every time you shop, try to reuse the ones you already have and distribute them throughout your bags, pockets, or mode of transportation. Another one is to consume locally and seasonally. Shipping of produce across town or country leaves a significant carbon footprint. An air shipment of goods can emit roughly 285g of carbon per kilometer.
Here are a few other tips on how to lower your carbon emissions:
- Take good care of your clothes. Rather than buying every season, try swapping, renting, or buying second-hand.
- Unplug your electronic equipment when it’s not in use and don’t leave your phone on charge when the battery is already full.
- The same goes for lighting and water. Turn off the light in the room if it’s not in use and turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth or cleaning the dishes.
Written by: Safaanah