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20 Apr 2021

Carbon - What's the problem

 Carbon dioxide is released naturally into the atmosphere; however, humans have increased CO2 by more than a third. In 2015, the Paris Agreement devised a plan to tackle climate change and cut carbon emissions. 196 countries attended COP21 in Paris where they decided to:

  • Reduce the number of harmful greenhouse gasses produced and increase renewable types of energy like wind, solar, and wave power.
  • Keep global temperature increase "well below" 2C (3.6F) and try to limit it to 1.5C.
  • Review progress made on the agreement every five years.
  • Spend $100 billion dollars a year in climate finance to help poorer countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

The government has pledged to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050 which means to release practically no carbon. This means emissions from transport, farming and industry must be prevented or offset by sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. For example, a target in the transport industry is to change to electric cars.

6% of the UK’s total carbon emissions are associated with water use, the majority of this is from heating water. To meet the UK’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, new houses are to be built to the highest sustainability standards. Ensuring that homes are built to the highest sustainability standards will ensure that communities are resilient to the effects of climate change, including the reduced availability of water and increased risk of flooding.

The Government also plans to introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, which will require new-build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. “If new homes are not built to be low carbon, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and climate-resilient, then we are saving ourselves up a huge problem in the future. Getting the design right from the outset is very obviously the most sensible decision.” Chris Stark - Chief Executive, Committee on Climate Change (June 2019).

Mains water production is a huge carbon contributor in the UK and a recent report by Waterwise states that re-using rainwater locally is less carbon productive than mains water. Rainwater not only contributes to water efficiency but carbon reduction too – win-win!

Rainwater harvesting systems can help to lower carbon emissions. Mains water when pumped into a building is an average of 0.344kgCO2e, in comparison rainwater harvesting systems pumped into a building is 0.059kgCO2e which is a saving of 0.285kgCO2e. Even when you include the installation of a rainwater harvesting system there is still a saving of 0.215kgCO2e.

Stormsaver’s StormStation is a carbon-neutral with photovoltaics rainwater harvesting unit. Everything is contained in one unit which means it is easier to access and maintain.

There are serious implications regarding climate change if we do not all start to do our bit. Many solutions like rainwater harvesting can help to reduce our carbon footprint. Tomorrow, we will be continuing to discuss “the problem” and investigate droughts and floods.

Links:

  1. RAA40673 I PC I Bricks Water 2 Report I DJL I F (2 page).pdf
  2. Ricardo_Independent-review-of-costs-and-benefits-of-RWH-and-GWR-Final-Report.pdf

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