Carbon is only half the story: Air quality needs to be central to climate commitments
Carbon has taken a central role in the narrative around climate change. But reducing local emissions, such as Particulate Matter (PM) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), is critical too.
This is true for two main reasons.
- Local emissions have been found to exacerbate the impact of CO2 globally, with recent research showing ambient air pollution may lead to higher carbon emissions. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that we need to reduce air pollutants by approximately 50% by 2030 if we are to achieve its Sustainable Development scenario of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.
- They reduce air quality, lead to damaging acid rain and impact people’s health. Pollution from particulate matter was responsible for more than 4 million deaths across the world in 2019.
Our mission to lower emissions
As a global company, Aggreko is constantly working to improve our environmental impact and to help our customers do the same. In November 2020, we committed to reducing local air quality emissions by 50% in 2030 compared with emissions in 2019.
A key part of this is the continual evolution of our fleet. We recently launched our Tier IV Final/Stage V 600 kVA canopy generator, which will deliver a 98% reduction in the volume of particulates and a 96% reduction in expelled NOx gases.
We can also reduce local emissions by using natural gas, LNG LPG and CNG. For example, using LNG instead of diesel can reduce carbon emissions by up to 20%, NOx emissions by up to 90% and there is no soot, dust or fumes. These two solutions will be particularly important for use in cities, which often have the highest levels of local emissions.
Urban areas are not the only priority though. The Paris Agreement explicitly states that by 2030 there should be universal access to electricity in order to reduce emissions from cooking and heating using wood or other fossil feedstock - this takes priority over any increase in carbon emissions from the increased level of connections to power.
Aggreko’s decentralised solutions are critical to rural electrification; offering quicker ways for unconnected areas to receive cleaner, efficient and consistent power. Aggreko has connected isolated areas all over the world, including 26 remote locations in the Amazon rainforest.
This is not to say carbon should be ignored in favour of local emissions. Carbon reduction remains a huge focus for Aggreko; over the past few years, we have been bringing more and more hybrid systems online, which make a difference to the carbon footprint of our customers and helps them to integrate renewables into their power mix.
It's time businesses started to take real action in measuring their local emissions in the same way they do with carbon.
Because ultimately, carbon reduction is only half the story.