Global warming is a scientific reality governed by facts that the well-informed will never dispute. Adversely trending warming effects and shifting weather patterns have contributed to catastrophic famines, destruction of forests, huge stresses on sea life, disastrous floods, and loss of human and physical assets. These situations and others have been widely observed and documented. Fortunately, the curtailment of CO2 emissions by modern industry is possible today. And it will go a long way toward reducing destructive action that results when CO2 escapes into the envelope of protective gases surrounding our living space.
The earth was designed with leafy vegetation and oceans that take up CO2 from the atmosphere and absorb around one-third of that gas created by fossil-fuel burning and deforestation. However, as the concentration increases, acidity also increases, and marine life suffers.
Net Zero carbon emissions are feasible but require the earnest cooperation of industry leaders. As an example, consider UK-based AES Engineering Ltd., (AES) which, in 2021, went beyond Net Zero. That year, the company’s global business activities delivering CO2e (the “e” denotes equivalent savings) matched the CO2 absorption of more than 18 million mature trees, according to figures obtained by one of the world’s leading standards organizations, the British Standards Institution (BSI).
EMISSION SCOPES DEFINED
Industry’s carbon footprint from direct, indirect, and supply- and value-chain emissions can be defined. As other writers for The RAM Review have noted, the relevant coverage is divided into three emission scopes:
- Scope 1: Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.
- Scope 3: Indirect emissions (not included in Scope 2) that occur in the value chain
of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.
SOLID ACHIEVEMENTS VERIFIED
In what may be a first for a major engineering company, BSI has verified that the activities of AES Engineering generated CO2e savings of 464,000 tonnes (of 1,000 kg/2,204 lbs each), resulting in a net benefit of 375,000 tonnes of CO2e. It was favorably noted that the Scope 3 emissions in the supply and value chain were just under 90,000 tonnes of CO2e.
The AES CO2e-saving record is equivalent to offsetting the CO2e emissions resulting from the production of 416,000 tonnes of cement or 97,000 tonnes of steel; this also equals preventing the burning of 150,000 tonnes of coal. To put these figures into perspective, a recently reported carbon capture scheme at an advanced waste incinerator in Oslo (Norway) costing £870 million (British pounds) is expected to save around 400,000 tonnes of CO2e annually. In the UK the government is currently investing just under £200 million to fund 4,000 zero emission buses which are expected to result in a net reduction of 57,000 tonnes of CO2e annually. This number equates only to about 15% of the savings resulting from the AES group’s global business activities.
Achieving Scopes 1, 2, and 3 in 2021 was calculated at 94,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). In addition to buying green energy, installing solar panels, and other environmental investments, AES purchased 5,000 tonnes of CO2 offsets from “gold standard” schemes, which neutralized completely the impact of the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
MAINTAINING A POSITIVE CARBON BALANCE SHEET
Note: AES markets reliability products and services that save energy and water, and cut pollution/ When that impact is considered, the company’s “carbon balance sheet” is strongly positive at 375,000 tonnes of CO2 saved. In the as-stated case of AES, BSI’s carefully verified numbers showed that Scope 3 (bad) emissions originating from suppliers of metal, raw materials, equipment bought etc., were only a fraction of the Scope 3 (good) emissions avoided by the customer’s activities. AES helped its customers reduce their CO2e emissions and Scopes 1 and 2 were neutralized by buying offsets. The group’s Scope 3 emissions were self-neutralized since the group’s professionals helped avoid more customer-generated CO2 than was emitted by the customers’ suppliers. Accordingly, the results have gone beyond Net Zero.
AN IMPORTANT SUMMARY
The seasoned Reliability Professionals at AES can proudly point to their support of a highly commendable target, i.e., getting beyond Net Zero by 2029. This target was reached eight years ahead of schedule. thanks to a group-wide effort and the #29by29 pledge to invest £29 million by 2029 in environmentally friendly projects. While more than £7 million has been committed already, AES intends to keep on going and will continue to support the so-called “Betterworld Solutions Initiative,” which encourages global industry to prioritize environmentally friendly investments.
The journey to prove that the results had gone beyond Net Zero was not an easy one. Most existing accreditation schemes for Net Zero only calculate the carbon “balance sheet” for the direct emissions in company-owned facilities or vehicles, and indirect emissions from electricity, steam, and heating & cooling. BSI worked with AES to find a solution to calculating the net impact of the group when Scopes 1, 2 and 3 are considered. This is vital since controlling supply chain emissions in industry (Scope 3) is essential if the earth must reach the Net Zero target.
Global industry needs to show it has a conscience about the environment. In the 1950s and 1960s, businesses were all about unbridled capitalism and profits. In the 21st century the forward-looking company covered by these commendable findings learned to embrace all stakeholders, meaning its employees, customers, suppliers and affected communities. The AES group’s “29by29” investment makes the statement that its most important stakeholder is the planet. Accordingly, this engineering company took tangible steps to limit and even avoid moving ever closer to looming cataclysmic events.
As highly competent Reliability Professionals, we must believe in leadership. The time has come to put in place responsible and actionable countermeasures; doing so without further delay is critically important. It is futile to hope that a tortured planet will magically self-heal and navigate around the existing calamity. Many parts of the earth are experiencing disasters even as we speak, and neither waiting nor endlessly debating the issue represent sensible abatement strategies.TRR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heinz Bloch’s long professional career included assignments as Exxon Chemical’s Regional Machinery Specialist for the United States. A recognized subject-matter-expert on plant equipment and failure avoidance, he is the author of numerous books and articles, and continues to present at technical conferences around the world. Bloch holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is an ASME Life Fellow. These days, he’s based near Houston, TX.
Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, global warming, climate change, CO2, British Standards Institution