Emissions by End-Use: What Activities Create the Most Emissions?
8 minute read
Updated on: 04 Mar 2021
In the last chapter we categorised emissions based on which sector they came from. There are other ways of looking at emissions, including by end-use or activity. This breaks down emissions within each sector to look at the final product or activity emissions are used for.
Why is it useful to categorise emissions by end use?
Categorising emissions by end-use gives us a better understanding of the particular activities or products that are responsible for causing emissions.
This is useful for working out how to reduce them. For example, we will see that buildings account for 17.7% of energy emissions. This information may lead governments to improve insulation so that less energy is wasted by inefficient heating and cooling of these buildings .
Which products cause the most emissions?
The right-hand column of the chart shows emissions by end-use activities. This redistributes emissions from the sector they are produced in, and instead assigns them to their final uses.
This particularly makes a difference for the energy sector, which produces energy for a wide range of end uses. Responsibility for emissions can be reallocated from the energy supply sector to the activities or products that use that energy.
An example is emissions from the use of fuels to produce heat or electricity for houses and apartments. This is produced by the energy sector, but used within buildings.
Which end uses/activities are the worst for the planet?
Activities on roads account for 11.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This includes emissions from laying the roads and emissions from vehicles that travel on these roads, including cars, trucks, and buses.
It also includes emissions from producing and trading these vehicles.
The buildings we live and work in account for even more, releasing 17.7% of global CO₂e emissions. This includes the electricity used in lighting, appliance use (anything plugged into a socket, from toasters to hairdryers), refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as the heat to warm our houses and workplaces and any direct fuel use such as gas .
When it comes to industry, the iron and steel industry is one of the largest energy-consuming industries in the world, accounting for 7.2% of greenhouse gas emissions .
CO₂ is emitted at various points when making steel, including when fuels are burnt on-site (70%), and the indirect emissions from electricity and heat used during the production process (30%).
Global demand for steel is still increasing, so without intervention, this sector may produce even more greenhouse gas in the future.
What is a “supply chain” and why are they important?
All the stages involved in the creation of a particular product - getting the resources, producing it, transporting it, and using and disposing of it - are collectively referred to as the supply chain.
When we categorise greenhouse gas emissions by end use, the emissions from each stage of the supply chain count towards the emissions caused by the final end product.
Let’s have a look at what this means in the food supply chain and the fashion supply chain.