Introduction to Sustainability Part 2

Published: 04th August 2023

In the previous newsletter we looked at the terms used in sustainability and carbon management that relate to setting carbon reduction targets and how these are achieved. This time we will delve further into the type of greenhouse gases and how businesses learn more about reducing them.

There are six carbon-based gases, known as Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), that sit in the upper atmosphere allowing light pass but not letting the heat back out, thus creating the greenhouse effect.

Type of GHG Cause/ Source
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Main contributor Burning fossil fuels Deforestation
Methane (CH4) Burning/ rotting of vegetation in the absence of oxygen
Cattle farming/ rice farming
Production of gas and oil
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Burning of fossil fuels
Chemical fertilisers
Hydroflouorocarbons (HFCs) Chemical by-products
Some refrigeration equipment
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) Manufactured chemical compounds (medical and other uses)
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) A manufactured compound used in insulation for high-voltage electrical equipment

All of these elements and/ or activities are human created and this is called Anthropogenic. They have all contributed to the rise in the temperature of the planet and it is therefore up to us to reduce them. By using a conversion factor the harmfulness of these gases can be converted to Carbon Dioxide Equivalents (CO2eq) for comparison purposes.

Businesses, obviously run by humans, have played their part in realising these gases into the atmosphere. Transport, heating buildings, agriculture and waste all contribute and they must be monitored so that reduction methods can be used against them.

The British Business Bank has surveyed businesses and found that 35% cite upfront costs being a barrier to implementing carbon reduction measures. Whilst 32% cited a lack of control (i.e. renting building space) and 12% cited a lack of information. These facts show that there are obstacles for businesses to overcome.

Strategic Carbon Management is a process of reducing and managing the carbon emissions that arise from an organisation’s business operations and embedding this within its strategic management and decision-making processes. There are various ways to do this and The United Nations and National Governments are slowly legislating to get companies to do their own carbon management.

The overarching policy of the United Nations is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from which individual areas of action are taken. The UN also drive the regular Conventions on Climate Change which aim to introduce legally binding treaties on climate change. Within the UK we have the Build Back Greener policy which gives the Governments action plan on climate action. Further information on these are at:

UN Sustainability Development Goals

Build Back Greener

By using this guidance businesses can start their journey of carbon reduction.

Credit: Al Dharmasasmita NTU