Environmental Management Plans Book Review
As the evidence of climate change is clear, companies are under pressure to conform to both voluntary and mandatory measures to reduce the emissions from greenhouse gases. These include regulatory and fiscal Measures to encourage widespread reporting of emissions along with targets for improvements. This book provides a guide to help businesses tasked with developing and implementing organisational strategies in response to the pressures from the government, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to help slow the rate of climate change. It provides useful summaries and explanations of practical techniques along with links to source materials.
The current atmospheric concentration is 78.08% nitrogen, 20.98% oxygen, 1% water vapour, 0.93% argon and 0.038% carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour are known to be the main contributors to the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ however there are other manmade and natural gases that also contribute too – for example, such gases can be found in pressurised deodorant cans. The ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is caused when the trace compounds in the atmosphere absorb solar radiation and thermal energy reflected by the Earth’s surface and contributes to the retention of heat in the atmosphere.
Each of the gases has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) figure which measures how much the given gas contributes to global warming. At the time of writing this book, the Kyoto gases had the following GWP’s:
- Carbon dioxide – 1
- Methane – 21
- Nitrous oxide – 310
- Hydrofluorocarbons – 140 – 11700
- Perfluorocarbons – 6500 – 9200
- Sulphur hexafluoride – 23900
In order to recognise the benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to understand the impact that the rising emissions are having on the environment, society and public health. The scientific principles outlined in the book are listed below:
- Anthropogenic (caused by humans) sources of greenhouse gases are the primary cause of the observed increase in atmospheric concentrations of these gases;
- Increased concentrations in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases results in global warming;
- The resulting increased global temperatures, of the atmosphere and oceans is modifying the world’s climate;
- The changes in the climate have a range of effects, varying in time and across the regions of the world;
- Scientific consensus is that the balance of these impacts is negative for the environment and society.
The book suggests the following approaches to achieving energy and GHG reduction:
- Using management systems – Implementing policies such as ISO14001 can help manage specific energy and emissions reduction initiatives.
- Raise awareness and gain support – this can be done through increasing communication, changing behaviour, introducing KPIs, gaining financial appraisal of projects, using diagrams and pictures and reporting progress on GHG reduction programmes.
- Engaging and re-engineering the supply chain.
The naturally occurring gases are increasing due to human activity. The IPCC state that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as it is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level”. It is concluded by the IPCC that the effects of global warming are not due to natural cyclical causes but rather anthropogenic emissions of GHG. There is strong evidence that the temperatures are rising and even stronger evidence that something needs to change.