A serious shift in the approach to climate change is needed in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2050. Energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources represent the first, important, part of the solution. Adopting the concept of circular economy is the second part of the solution and implicit constant innovation in order to have smarter and more efficient ways of production, use and disposal of materials, products and food. These two solutions, applied together, put us on the path to sustainable low-carbon development that strives for zero carbon-dioxide emissions.
Climate change mitigation
Improving energy efficiency and switching to sustainable energy sources are necessary steps in mitigating climate change. With existing technology, this transition would certainly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions primarily come from the production of electricity and energy for heating (and increasingly for cooling) of our buildings and houses, due to the use of different fossil fuels for energy production, and globally they amount to about 17.5% of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases.
The building sector (residential and public) achieved a share of 61% in total energy consumption in Belgrade in 2015, while buildings are responsible for as much as 79% of CO₂ emissions.
Action plan for sustainable climate and energy of the city of Belgrade
Energy consumption is an area where citizens can make a significant contribution and help climate change mitigation processes. The application of measures to improve energy efficiency in the household, the purchase of efficient appliances, and the introduction of renewable energy sources in the energy mix of the household are the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also, in the long run, achieve financial savings.
The industry, due to its numerous processes, requires a large use of energy and is responsible for almost 24.2% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Most energy is needed for the production of iron and steel, chemical and petrochemical products, as well as cement.
After the production of energy, agriculture, forestry and land usage are the second largest emitters of greenhouse gases with 18.4%. These sectors are the leading source of emissions that are not related to carbon dioxide, such as methane.
Excessive greenhouse gas emissions are a consequence of previous ways of producing raw materials, processed materials, products, and they are somewhat more difficult to mitigate, which is why the transition to a circular economy is important.
How the circular economy has an effect on the reduction of greenhouse gases
- By reducing waste and the resulting pollution, we reduce emissions associated with the production of materials and products.
- By keeping existing materials and products in use, we save energy, water and other resources that have already been incorporated through the production process, instead of producing new materials and products, which in turn produce greenhouse gases.
- By restoring natural systems, we dispose and retain carbon in the soil, which also helps the quality of the soil.
All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many ways we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors. Renewable energy, energy efficiency and the circular economy are currently the fastest ways we can help mitigate climate change.