Climate protection needs an open-minded approach to technology. Life-cycle analyses make it possible to evaluate technologies objectively and to assess greenhouse gas emissions holistically.
The earth becomes warmer and warmer: The average temperature of each of the past three decades has always been higher than that of all other decades since records began in 1850. The negative consequences of global warming are already being felt almost everywhere. Climate protection is the central challenge of our time. It is essential to counteract global warming and its consequences. The focus is on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
CO2 is primarily released when fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas, or derived products are burned: for power generation, in industry, in transportation and traffic, for heating and cooling. To drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, various solutions can and must be pursued. Climate protection involves many technologies.
It is indisputable that avoiding CO2 will require additional investments. These should be made primarily where the greatest benefit is achieved. This is where life-cycle analyses (LCA) come into play, because they make it possible to adequately compare individual technologies with each other, rather than apples with oranges. All phases of a product's or service's life are included in an LCA, from production and use to recycling or disposal at the end of life. In addition, the raw materials required for the product or service are also considered. Looking only at the emissions during the operating phase is not enough and distorts the picture. Consequently, the aspect of LCA also includes not only evaluating and, if necessary, regulating the emissions that occur locally, but also taking into account the CO2 emissions that occur globally along the value chain. The final result is a holistic, comparable picture that serve as a basis for objective decisions.
Government action is required to set targets that are open to all technologies and in such a way that they can be regarded as beneficial in relation to the economic and social costs. In contrast, instruments that only relate to individual phases in the life cycle of a technology create negative incentives and are more likely to lead to a shift in emissions than to an actual reduction.
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