How to Tackle the Carbon Footprint of International Trade

17 марта 2021, 15:41

Because international trade is responsible for roughly a quarter of global carbon emissions, the trade industry must reduce emissions and become more sustainable.

Climate Change Contributors Under Pressure to Change

As the world becomes more conscious about the impact of human activity on the environment, companies are being forced to make environmentally-friendly changes. Industries such as aviation, mining, and transportation, in particular, have been under increasing pressure to make their operations carbon neutral.

Around 25% of the 32 billion tonnes of CO2 that enters the earth’s atmosphere each year is associated with the production and transportation of goods. Thus, international trade players are strategizing ways to reduce the 8 billion tonnes of carbon emissions that the sector produces each year. Here are some tactics that can help solve this issue:

Reducing Unnecessary Imports and Exports

Countries capable of growing enough food to feed their population are importing and exporting mammoth volumes of food each year. For example, most of the food consumed in the UK is imported, with just 16% of fruit and 54% of vegetables being locally grown. Imports of beans and asparagus alone account for 270,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. As a result, a considerable amount of unnecessary freight is being transported, adding to carbon emissions. Thus, countries must focus on consuming homegrown food products, encouraging the population to select locally grown items, and being more conscious of where the food is coming from.

Reducing Aviation and Shipping Emissions

Not all freight transport can be prevented since trade is essential for economic growth. Therefore, the next-best solution is to reduce the carbon footprints from international trade and make changes to reduce the emissions associated with aviation and shipping.

The global aviation industry produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019. In 2020, the levels of emissions caused by the aviation industry in Europe was 70% more compared to levels from 2005, and these numbers may grow by another 300% by 2050.

To address this problem, companies are looking for ways to make flying more efficient. 3D printing is already making headway in this area, demonstrating that by replacing components of the plane with 3D-printed ones, the aircraft can burn less fuel. The shipping industry is looking to tackle its emissions in similar ways, from using alternative fuels and renewable energy to switching to “slow steaming” to save fuel. Additionally, scientists are developing new technologies to generate more efficient flight paths and limit extra time spent in the air due to delays. Finally, alternative, sustainable fuels are being developed as well.

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