Why net-zero CO2 only – who says it’s the right measure for sustainability?

The EU-Ratification of the Paris COP21 Climate Protection Accord includes an improvement commitment to do better if we can. CO2 targets may be a start, but tend to mislead under the current discussions. The energy sector may have become a big contributor to Green House Gas Emissions, but not the only area to focus on. From agriculture through life stock to carbonaceous waste the world needs to turn towards #CarbonEfficiency in addition to picking energy emissions out as a central theme!

Our civilization’s habit of using Carbon equals a lifestyle of single use lining, linen, towels, dishes, cutlery, you name it! Buy – Use once – throw away – buy new every day, every meal and every night! Imagine how much water or energy could be saved, in households generating all this additional waste, one could re-classify into Zero Waste as a secondary resource to produce energy the world would see equivalent to renewable. Except the last part, this is how we use carbonaceous resources today, except for ~0.1% in plastic recycling cascades in between, which still too often finally end up in our oceans.

Carbon evolved to the worlds most used resource amounting to 57% of all global resource consumptions. In recent years we’re talking about 9.5Gt fossil and poorly used 3.8Gt renewable Carbon per year. About 0.4Gt go through plastics aggregates, of which these days still 80% end up in dumps and landfills. The rest of Carbon either is burnt or deteriorates naturally into ultimately CO2. At recent U$ 50/bbl crude oil prices we re-procured every tonne theoretically recyclable Carbon disposed or released to atmosphere instead, for 500U$ equaling U$ 140 per tonne CO2. The cost of keeping recyclable Carbon in the loop can be costed between 40 – 70% of its above mentioned replacement cost depending whether primary feedstock was Natural Gas, Biomass or Organic Municipal Waste Residues and sludge.

The Technologies to do this are available – their development into application however is superseded by CO2 abatement business interests calling for ever more privileging rules and regulations to socialize their cost overruns from continued lavish squandering of even renewable Carbon. Yes, CO2 abatement has become a big business charging extra from consumers for good reasons – but for continued unjustifiable default of not diligently using – recycling and re-using primary Carbon resources, like society has adopted for most other less consumed resources. Unfortunately these business models already are an outcome of the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism and several regimes regulatory biasing market mechanisms.

Let’s hope COP21 will not further fuel these adulterated paradigms – at the end of days for sustainability #CarbonEfficiency will have to prevail irrespective of the origin of Carbon. That will automatically prompt Carbon Recycling being the most economic and common sense approach. Once the focus will be defogged from CO2 abatement onto Carbon Recycling, cost will assure organic waste composting wherever it can serve the food-food chain keeping ~60% Carbon stored in soil. For the rest of carbohydrates the recycling rate can be leveraged beyond 75%. And for fossil hydrocarbons Hydrogen- utility power generation and, or transportation would allow 32% Carbon Capture from coal, 50% off crude oil and 90% for Natural Gas.

So the good news is that there is a lot of potential for decarbonizing end use of hydrocarbon energy carriers under simultaneous substantial fossil Carbon substitution through Captured Carbon for multiple re-Use from Carbon Recycling, preferably from Natural Gas and abundant biomass before using other fossils.

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