Environment well being

Decarbonisation is on its way

Sergio Ferraris • Environment journalist

Decarbonisation is not only necessary but also beneficial for businesses and citizens

“Limiting CO2 emissions through decarbonisation is not only necessary, today it is also cost convenient.”

Decarbonisation is today’s buzzword for businesses and beyond. It means producing with least possible climate-altering emissions, for the same quantity and quality of products, and aiming at zero greenhouse gas emissions. On the surface, this is a very simple concept with complex configuration, because industrial supply chains have reached a diverse composition with multiple factors involved. In particular, the globalization of raw materials has made figuring out their emission balance either unknown or very complex even by the companies involved.


A company of the agri-food chain carrying out a transformation faces a very complicated task in obtaining data on all that happens upstream and downstream of its own processes. And when the chain has many players, possibly spread out in various countries with different policies on climate, the scenario becomes even more complex. Furthermore, in the decarbonisation process all that is climate altering is taken into account, not CO2 alone, but also methane and other fuels.

Difficult equation

And resolving the decarbonisation equation is even more difficult for businesses.  In addition to recognising and managing emissions through the entire chain, the other major problem is the cost-effectiveness of these processes. Reaching zero emissions in production processes might already be possible now, but it would require the use of  expensive technologies that would raise consumers’ prices. In this regard, dynamics connected to the energy markets must be considered. Using photovoltaic systems to produce energy with very low emissions, especially by businesses, would have been unthinkable only fifteen years ago. 


The current costs of photovoltaic panels is 89% lower and the product life is 25% longer. In Italy the cost of Sun-produced electricity is equal to that of fossil sources, but with two advantages that are extremely valuable for companies. The first one is stability of the kWh price and the second one is supply security. That is to say that those who rely on renewable sources are not affected by geopolitical crises in terms of costs or supplies. In the worst case, their emissions are one tenth of those who use fossil fuels, but it is a transitional phase. Energy stability is also an advantage for the public who are less affected by energy inflation.

Circular decarbonisation

And let’s end with the topic of circular economy. Reuse and recycle clearly decrease energy consumption and emissions from fossil sources. Aluminium is an example. Employing “used” aluminium as opposed to virgin raw materials saves 90% of energy, and this metal is recyclable to infinity with no loss of quality. It is estimated that more than 70% of the aluminium in circulation, rather in recirculation, on the Planet is “second-hand”. The beverage can we hold in our hand could have been a fighter plane in its prior life and might turn into a component of the next Mars lander. Or, much more simply, might circle back to your homes as a coffee machine. And the climate thanks.

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