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Built environment emissions

Feb 01,2021 - Last updated at Feb 01,2021

The four basic Green House Gases causing global warming are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydroflorocarbons (HFCs). According to World Bank statistics, HFCs emission in Jordan have increased from 110.3 Kt (thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent) in 2008 to 193 Kt in 2010; a high percentage of 75 per cent. The big increase is probably due to methane emissions, mainly produced from agricultural products and fossil fuel industry, which reached 2203 Kt of CO2 equivalent in 2008, but dropped to 2114 Kt in the year 2012. This 4 per cent drop is possibly attributed to improving conditions of waste disposal and treatment, as well as due to the drop in agricultural production and developing more efficient methods.

Nitrous Oxide emissions, which are mainly of agricultural products, land use activities and biomass burning, dropped from 873 Kt in 1998 to 604 Kt in the year 2012. This 30 per cemt drop is attributed to developing more efficient methods, as well as less production of agricultural goods, less use of land and reduced biomass burning. It is useful to note here that a molecule of methane has 21 times the potential to absorb heat compared to a carbon dioxide molecule.

Carbon dioxide emissions from all anthropogenic activities dropped from 26571 Kt in 2014 to 25107 Kt in 2016. This regression can be explained by the fact that carbon dioxide emissions from liquid fuel consumption dropped from 22442 Kt in 2014 to 14873 Kt in 2016. This reduction of 33 per cent is attributed mainly to replacing heavy fuel burning at power stations by natural gas, part of which started flowing immediately after the Aqaba Floating Gas Terminal was commissioned in May 2015.

With the new energy strategy 2020-2030 announced publically, oil shale electricity share of 14 per cent in 2020, along with its GHGs emission, cannot possibly be balanced by the increase of only 3 per cent in renewable energy by 2030. Therefore, carbon dioxide will be on the rise in the coming decade undermining Jordan`s pledge to reduce emissions by 14 per cent in 2030 according to Paris 2015 Climate Change Agreement ratified by Jordan.

Therefore, urgent steps should be taken to fulfill Jordan`s environmental obligations, starting with the transportation and energy sectors. The former consists of 26 per cent of the energy sector emissions, while the latter includes heating and electricity, constitutes 25 per cent of the energy sector. So, we shall try to suggest some action plan, as Jordan’s energy emissions were increased by 59 per cent from 1990 to 2011, with electricity and heat production contributing 60 per cent of that increase.

Therefore, improvising plans for upgrading heat and electricity efficiency in buildings is a priority, along with electrification of the transportation sector.

If we look at the UK which has a legally binding commitment to undergo a reduction in carbon emissions based on 1990 levels by 80 per cent in 2050. Accordingly, the 2025 Construction Strategy has set a 50 per cent reduction in emissions from the built environment by 2025, therefore a nationwide endeavour of refurbishing 26 million homes has started some years back. 

In Jordan, assuming that we have 2 million homes, only half of which can be thermally insulated on solid walls and roofs because of many reasons, such as roofs being too old, cracked or congested with various materials; water tanks, satellites, solar panels…etc. However, we can start a pilot project that cost the government absolutely nothing by giving loans to retired engineers who have the time to supervise their projects and can be entrusted by the Engineering Syndicate through their monthly retirement payment.

 

The writer is an energy and green building consultant

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