Net-Zero Principles and Practices

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 24002

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Ulsan, Ulsan, Republic of Korea
Interests: climate change response technology; carbon capture utilization and storage; estimation of GHG emissions; remediation technology; life cycle assessment; system optimization

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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei 106335, Taiwan
Interests: carbon capture; CO2 chemical absorption; adsorption; HIGEE technology; process intensification; process development and scale-up; fluid-phase equilibria, thermo-physical property package development

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Guest Editor
Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
Interests: ecological hydrology monitoring and modeling in drainage basins; global change land use modeling; landscape ecology; system dynamic modeling of wetlands; spatial analysis and modeling; blockchain; spatial dynamic modeling
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The energy, industry, and transportation sectors contribute a significant portion of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere. In the face of extreme climate change, all carbon-intensive sectors are dedicated to achieving a net-zero emission scheme, in which all anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be removed from the atmosphere through reduction and negative measures. For agriculture, it is an emitter of GHGs (e.g., CH4 and N2O), but on the flip side, it can provide a negative carbon sink through practices including soil carbon sequestration, biochar, and bioenergy coupled with carbon capture and utilization (BECCU). To facilitate the path towards net zero, efforts for science, technology and management advancement should be undertaken.

This Special Issue collects original research articles and critical reviews on the recent advances in the principles and practices for achieving a net-zero carbon system. The primary areas of interest of this Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

(1) carbon neutrality in agriculture;

(2) a low-carbon energy sector;

(3) responsible production and consumption in industries;

(4) an energy-efficient water sector;

(5) green and smart transportation systems;

(6) green tourism and green buildings;

(7) carbon capture, storage, and utilization;

(8) negative carbon technologies.

Dr. Shu-Yuan Pan
Dr. Daeseung Kyung
Dr. Cheng-Hsiu Yu
Prof. Dr. Yu-Pin Lin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • carbon neutral in agriculture
  • water, energy and food nexus
  • low-carbon energy sector
  • responsible production and consumption
  • energy-efficient water sector
  • green and smart transportation system
  • green tourisms
  • green buildings
  • carbon capture, storage, and utilization (CCSU)
  • negative carbon technologies
  • bioenergy coupled with carbon capture and utilization (BECCU)
  • biochar
  • soil carbon sink

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 1634 KiB  
Article
Usage of Methanol Fuel Cells to Reduce Power Outages in the Etelä-Savo Region, Finland
by Pedro Gomez Hernandez, Thomas Leopold Berg and George Xydis
Environments 2023, 10(6), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10060096 - 05 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1465
Abstract
The operation of the electricity grid can be heavily affected by unexpected meteorological phenomena which generate emergency situations that cause extensive outages. This often has to do with weather-related events. In several places in the world, an electricity network operator is responsible for [...] Read more.
The operation of the electricity grid can be heavily affected by unexpected meteorological phenomena which generate emergency situations that cause extensive outages. This often has to do with weather-related events. In several places in the world, an electricity network operator is responsible for fairly compensating end-users. In Finland, there are areas where these weather-related impacts are significantly harsher than those in other areas. Based on this and historic data, the applicability and viability of a high-temperature proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) backup power system was studied in order to assess the opportunity for its installation in the affected municipalities and regions. When implemented on a larger scale, from both technoeconomic and social perspectives, such systems have the potential to yield significant benefits. Compared to a diesel generator, the HT-PEMFC produced nearly half of the volume of CO2 and its fuel costs were six times smaller; however, it remains inapplicable to individual detached households. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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17 pages, 338 KiB  
Article
Effects of Board Independence on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Financial Consequences: Evidence from South Korea
by Sang Joon Kim, Hohyun Kim and Erdal Atukeren
Environments 2023, 10(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030056 - 18 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4158
Abstract
Because of climate change issues, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been emerging as an important research topic in recent years. This study examines the role of corporate governance in reducing GHG emissions by focusing on board independence. We use the industry fixed effect [...] Read more.
Because of climate change issues, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been emerging as an important research topic in recent years. This study examines the role of corporate governance in reducing GHG emissions by focusing on board independence. We use the industry fixed effect panel regression model to analyze data from 156 listed South Korean firms during the period from 2011 to 2019. Our results suggest that board independence is related positively with the reduction in GHG emissions. In addition, our evidence shows that firms with higher levels of GHG emissions have better financial performance, but board independence weakens the relation. Our findings imply that an independent board tends to focus on balancing the firm’s financial versus environmental performance. This quantitative study contributes to our understanding of the effects of corporate effects on firms’ GHG emissions and their financial consequences. The findings have implications for corporate managers and policymakers with respect to choosing corporate governance structures that reduce GHG emissions effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
12 pages, 4522 KiB  
Article
Are Nordic Saltmarshes Europe’s Way to ‘Live in Harmony with Nature’? Scientists Driven Future Scenarios via a Participatory Workshop
by Emily Cowan, Rachel Tiller and Gary Banta
Environments 2023, 10(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030054 - 15 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2258
Abstract
Saltmarshes have the ability to not only promote biodiversity, but to put nations on the path towards climate recovery and net-zero emissions through saltmarshes’ capability to take up carbon. As the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal sets out to reach net-zero emissions by [...] Read more.
Saltmarshes have the ability to not only promote biodiversity, but to put nations on the path towards climate recovery and net-zero emissions through saltmarshes’ capability to take up carbon. As the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal sets out to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, innovative solutions will need to be identified, possibly even through better preserving century-old habitats such as saltmarshes. Based on the upcoming needs from the EU, in the Spring of 2021, a workshop was held with leading Nordic saltmarsh and blue carbon scientists using the transdisciplinary methods of Systems Thinking and Bayesian Belief Networks to identify solutions that can include saltmarshes in future policy. These joint methods elicited multiple future scenarios in which data were collected on perceived notions of the value of saltmarshes and how to better govern them to ensure their longevity. The models developed in this study include human perceptions and comprehensive quantitative scenarios through their ability to define paths forward in the form of comprehensive policy recommendations. We found through scenario analysis that a major belief among the stakeholders was numerous events of change such as ‘outreach, getting salt marshes on the political agenda and forming new narratives would help to increase saltmarsh area via conservation and restoration prioritization’ would have a positive impact of saltmarshes in Nordic countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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15 pages, 1635 KiB  
Article
Qualitative and Quantitative Changes in Soil Organic Compounds in Central European Oak Forests with Different Annual Average Precipitation
by István Fekete, Ornella Francioso, Myrna J. Simpson, Paola Gioacchini, Daniela Montecchio, Imre Berki, Norbert Móricz, Katalin Juhos, Áron Béni and Zsolt Kotroczó
Environments 2023, 10(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030048 - 07 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2203
Abstract
The various climate scenarios consistently predict warming and drying of forests in Hungary. Soils play a significant role in the long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2, while in other cases they can also become net carbon emitters. Therefore, it is important to [...] Read more.
The various climate scenarios consistently predict warming and drying of forests in Hungary. Soils play a significant role in the long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2, while in other cases they can also become net carbon emitters. Therefore, it is important to know what can be expected regarding future changes in the carbon storage capacity of soils in forests. We used precipitation gradient studies to solve this problem, using a type of “space–time” substitution. In this research, we primarily examined the quality parameters of soil organic matter (SOM) to investigate how climate change transforms the ratio of the main SOM compound groups in soils. For our studies, we applied elemental and 13C and 15N isotopic ratio analysis, NMR analysis, FT-IR spectra analysis, thermogravimetric and differential thermal analyses to measure SOM chemistry in samples from different oak forests with contrasting mean annual precipitation from Central Europe. Our results showed that soil organic carbon (SOC) was lower in soils of humid forests due to the enhanced decomposition processes and the leaching of Ca, which stabilizes SOM; however, in particular, the amount of easily degradable SOM compounds (e.g., thermolabile SOM, O-alkyl carbon, carboxylic and carbonyl carbon) decreased. In dry forest soils, the amount of recalcitrant SOM (e.g., thermostable SOM, alkyl carbon, aromatic and phenolic carbon and organo–mineral complexes stabilized by Ca increased, but the amount of easily degradable SOM increased further. The main conclusion of our study is that SOC can increase in forests that become drier, compensating somewhat for the decrease in forest plant biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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Review

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16 pages, 744 KiB  
Review
Climate-Neutral Agriculture?
by Lucas Reijnders
Environments 2023, 10(5), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050072 - 26 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2984
Abstract
Regarding the achievement of worldwide agricultural climate neutrality, the focus is on a worldwide net-zero emission of cradle-to-farmgate greenhouse gases (GHGs), while, when appropriate, including the biogeophysical impacts of practices on the longwave radiation balance. Increasing soil carbon stocks and afforestation have been [...] Read more.
Regarding the achievement of worldwide agricultural climate neutrality, the focus is on a worldwide net-zero emission of cradle-to-farmgate greenhouse gases (GHGs), while, when appropriate, including the biogeophysical impacts of practices on the longwave radiation balance. Increasing soil carbon stocks and afforestation have been suggested as practices that could be currently (roughly) sufficient to achieve agricultural climate neutrality. It appears that in both cases the quantitative contributions to climate neutrality that can actually be delivered are very uncertain. There is also much uncertainty about the quantitative climate benefits with regard to forest conservation, changing feed composition to reduce enteric methane emission by ruminants, agroforestry and the use of nitrification and urease inhibitors to decrease the emission of N2O. There is a case for much future work aimed at reducing the present uncertainties. The replacing of animal husbandry-based protein production by plant-based protein production that can reduce agricultural GHG emissions by about 50%, is technically feasible but at variance with trends in worldwide food consumption. There is a case for a major effort to reverse these trends. Phasing out fossil fuel inputs, improving nitrogen-use efficiency, net-zero GHG-emission fertilizer inputs and reducing methane emissions by rice paddies can cut the current worldwide agricultural GHG emissions by about 22%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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22 pages, 3372 KiB  
Review
A Historical Analysis of Hydrogen Economy Research, Development, and Expectations, 1972 to 2020
by Jiazhen Yap and Benjamin McLellan
Environments 2023, 10(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10010011 - 06 Jan 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 7481
Abstract
Global climate change concerns have pushed international governmental actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting cleaner technologies, hoping to transition to a more sustainable society. The hydrogen economy is one potential long-term option for enabling deep decarbonization for the future energy landscape. [...] Read more.
Global climate change concerns have pushed international governmental actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting cleaner technologies, hoping to transition to a more sustainable society. The hydrogen economy is one potential long-term option for enabling deep decarbonization for the future energy landscape. Progress towards an operating hydrogen economy is discouragingly slow despite global efforts to accelerate it. There are major mismatches between the present situation surrounding the hydrogen economy and previous proposed milestones that are far from being reached. The overall aim of this study is to understand whether there has been significant real progress in the achievement of a hydrogen economy, or whether the current interest is overly exaggerated (hype). This study uses bibliometric analysis and content analysis to historically map the hydrogen economy’s development from 1972 to 2020 by quantifying and analyzing three sets of interconnected data. Findings indicate that interest in the hydrogen economy has significantly progressed over the past five decades based on the growing numbers of academic publications, media coverage, and projects. However, various endogenous and exogenous factors have influenced the development of the hydrogen economy and created hype at different points in time. The consolidated results explore the changing trends and how specific events or actors have influenced the development of the hydrogen economy with their agendas, the emergence of hype cycles, and the expectations of a future hydrogen economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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Other

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11 pages, 1231 KiB  
Technical Note
Analysis of Uncertainty in the Depth Profile of Soil Organic Carbon
by Nathan Robinson and Kurt Benke
Environments 2023, 10(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10020029 - 06 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2577
Abstract
The soil organic carbon (SOC) depth profile provides information for many applications, including monitoring climate change, carbon sequestration, reforestation, and land erosion. Models of the SOC profile support data interpolation, trend analysis, and carbon mapping, and can be used in larger pedometric models [...] Read more.
The soil organic carbon (SOC) depth profile provides information for many applications, including monitoring climate change, carbon sequestration, reforestation, and land erosion. Models of the SOC profile support data interpolation, trend analysis, and carbon mapping, and can be used in larger pedometric models in support of carbon farming. Model errors may be due to statistical variability in discrete data and the limited sample size available for model calibration. Uncertainties in the model can arise from a process of iterative parameter adjustment and can be estimated by gradient-based methods or probabilistic methods. A comparison between Frequentist and Bayesian approaches to the construction of regression-based models revealed that the results were very similar when used for calibrating a model for the SOC profile. The model was applied to four representative regional sites in Victoria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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