3M - less waste, less carbon, more climate

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Climate Change is one of the top environmental, social and economic threats to the planet and humanity nowadays.


Today no one doubts that the origin of Climate Change is anthropogenic (human) and that this is a serious matter that can affect mankind like no other threat. This problem is even more serious for the Developing Economies, since they not only have less resources but are also the most vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change.
In Europe the effects will be felt especially at the southern countries turning Climate Change into a priority to Portugal.

Evidences

There are clear scientific evidence that the climate is changing. Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reaffirmed these evidences and identified the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) as the decisive factor for global warming, since 1750.

There is no doubt that the causes of "global warming" are human - and are associated with GHG emissions from activities that result from industrialization and progress which led to the present era of globalization.

Projections and sceneries

Even reducing GHG emissions now, Climate Change and its effects will be continued for decades.

All forecasts and scenarios produced in outside scientific are unanimous: the planet's average temperature will continue to rise, intensifying climate change and its consequences. In view of this, in addition to mitigation, adaptation emerges as necessary and urgent response, within a framework of environmental, economic and social values in which the costs of adaptation, the sooner they are taken, the more it will capitalize on benefits, current and future .

Europe will be one of the most affected areas by climate change and Portugal are among the most vulnerable areas of Europe, associated with a hot and dry scenario.



Waste Management

When considering Waste Management, the main source of GHG is the emission of methane (CH4) from landfills as a result of degradation of organic carbon contained in the dumped waste. Unlike what happens with the majority of GHG sources of human origin, these emissions occur during several decades after the deposition of the waste.

Waste Incineration emits mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) - 94% - as a result of the presence of non-biogenic sources of carbon in the waste (e.g. plastics and synthetic textiles), and in small quantities methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

Composting emits small amounts of methane (CH4) - between 1% and 6% of the initial carbon input - and nitrous oxide N2O - between 0.5% and 5% of the initial nitrogen input.

The waste sector is also responsible for direct emissions resulting from support activities, e.g. the consumption of fossil fuels in incineration and composting, the operation of trucks and heavy machinery in collection and landfilling. It is also responsible for indirect emissions associated with the electricity consumed on their facilities, whether administrative or directly linked to waste treatment.

However, the waste sector can play an important role in reducing climate change effects. Waste Management emissions can be significantly reduced by implementing prevention campaigns, recovering and recycling materials and organic waste and using waste as a source of energy.



At the same time, in a setting where global GHG emissions will continue to increase in the coming decades – it is estimated that by 2100 the planet's average temperature will be increased by 1.8 ºC to 4 ºC - the waste sector definitely will have to adapt. Thus, adaptation arises as a necessary and urgent response within a framework of environmental, economic and social values.


 
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