Phytoplankton

A large part of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is captured in the world's oceans through the "biological pump", a process driven by the enormous amounts of microscopic phytoplankton found in the oceans' upper water layers and which together make up 1 percent of the earth's total biomass.

These unicellular algae get energy to grow through photosynthesis.

With the help of sunlight, they convert the carbon dioxide in the air into the carbon compound sugar with vital oxygen as a by-product.

It is estimated that 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions linked to human activity over the past 200 years have been absorbed in this way.

Without phytoplankton, global warming would have been much faster.

In addition to producing oxygen for every fifth breath we take - four times more than the Amazon - these phytoplankton also form the basis of the ocean's entire food chain.

They are eaten by zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by larger animals, which are eaten by fish, etc. When these creatures die, their bodies sink to the bottom of the sea where the carbon in them remains for centuries instead of burning on the greenhouse effect.

They are thus one of nature's many carbon sinks.

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Plankton food dies - can mean major climate change.

But what exactly are diatoms?

SVT's reporter explains.

Photo: TT

Cement and concrete

6-7 percent of human emissions of fossil carbon dioxide occur during the production of cement from limestone.

Partly in the process itself, when the carbon dioxide that has been bound in the limestone for millions of years is released into the air.

But also from the fuels needed to heat the stone flour and drive the process.  

Concrete contains 15 percent cement and is needed in most constructions.

Even when it comes to those that are made to reduce climate emissions, such as railways, hydropower reservoirs and foundations for wind turbines.

The cement and construction industry has recently tried to reduce its climate impact, by reusing crushed concrete in the manufacture of new or letting it replace stone crushers in road construction.

Cement also has the ability to recover carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In contact with air, a chemical process takes place that slowly converts the cement back into limestone.

Structures such as bridges wither away from this so-called carbonation and must therefore be protected.

But by letting concrete "breathe" in less vulnerable situations, the industry hopes to be able to repay parts of its climate debt.

Another hope is to be able to capture carbon dioxide from cement production in the future and store it in the bedrock.

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See Matilda Hoffstedt, factory manager at Cementa in Slite, tell us more about the investment in the clip.

Photo: Patrik Widegren / SVT.

Valar

A choice benefits the climate by growing so gigantic.

While alive, it binds about 33 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in its body hut, as much as 1,000 trees.

Economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have calculated that each large baleen whale alone, through its ability to bind carbon, performs a benefit worth at least SEK 20 million.

And when the whale dies and the carcass sinks into the depths, the coal follows down to the seabed where it remains for hundreds of years.

But the value of whales for the planet does not stop there.

Their feces have been shown to be the perfect fertilizer to increase the amount of phytoplankton.

The more whales there are, the greater the opportunities for the ocean to capture even more carbon dioxide.

According to economists, today's population of large whales is worth SEK 10,000 billion to humanity.

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The whales are valuable for the climate according to researchers.

Photo: Michael Fishbach

Wooden house

According to a report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the construction industry together accounts for 38 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

This is exemplified by the fact that so many new buildings are being built on earth that they correspond to a new Paris - every week.

The fact that a large part of the structures consist of concrete and energy-intensive steel are the main reasons for the emissions.

In Sweden there is plenty of wood and by building more houses in wood you can keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

As long as the wood does not rot or burn, the carbon dioxide is bound in the walls and beams of the house.

The positive climate effect will be even greater if newly planted trees replace those that have been felled, as growing forests are masters at absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and binding it in the wood.

Sweden's tallest wooden house, the 20-storey tower part of the Sara culture house in Skellefteå, contains 12,200 cubic meters of wood from 15,000 trees.

As long as the house remains, it stores carbon dioxide equivalent to 13,500 round-trip flights between Stockholm and New York.

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- The timber comes from around 15,000 trees that have grown in the immediate area around Skellefteå, says Therese Kreisel, planning manager for Skellefteå.

Photo: Sven Lindahl / Jonatan Gammel / SVT

Clothes

The clothing industry accounts for about ten percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, more than aviation and shipping combined, according to the UN trade agency Unctad.

About one-fifth of the clothes' climate impact occurs during transport and washing, the rest during production.

This concerns both the way cotton is grown and the textile factories' energy supply.

Buying organic cotton does not help if the energy used in the production comes from coal power.

In addition to carbon dioxide emissions, textile manufacturing also consumes large amounts of water and chemicals.

The impact of clothing on the climate is mainly due to the large consumption and that they are difficult to recycle.

An average Swede buys 14 kilos of new clothes and textiles per year and throws away 8 kilos.

By owning fewer garments that are used more often, a large part of the climate impact would disappear.

And if more garments that are not used ended up on the secondary market, the carbon dioxide gain would be even greater.

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Maybe you can recreate a style with the clothes you already have?

Hear second-hand expert Filippa Nielsen's best tips for a more sustainable wardrobe in the clip.

Photo: Storyblocks

Wetlands

Swamps such as bogs and marshes contain peat - remains from plants that lived and absorbed carbon dioxide hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Because they are submerged under stagnant water, lack of oxygen has prevented them from decaying, and like oil and coal, peat contains energy.

Large parts of the land area in the northern hemisphere are covered by peat, in Sweden it makes up 15 percent of the area and acts as an effective carbon sink.

But Assignment review has shown that marshes and bogs that were once dug out in search of more arable land have been transformed into a large-scale climate culprit.

This is because peat that was previously under water can now react with the oxygen in the air.

Then a kind of slow combustion occurs which every year emits as much carbon dioxide as Sweden's passenger car traffic.

Digging the ditches and so that the peat ends up under water again would be one of the fastest and cheapest climate measures that can be taken, according to the UN's climate panel IPCC.

But it has been slow, at least in Sweden.

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"Bacteria that exhale carbon dioxide" - see how the emissions from drained wetlands work.

Photo: SVT

Data traffic and streaming

Every time someone does something online, an energy-intensive process starts in a data center somewhere and electricity is consumed.

In addition, their own devices and screens draw energy.

In 2019, data centers and digital infrastructure were estimated to account for 3 percent of global electricity consumption and 2 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions - on a par with emissions from the aviation industry at the time.

Since then, the pandemic has in all probability reduced the share of aviation while increasing data traffic at the same rate as the number of digital meetings and home evenings in front of the screen.

One of the big energy gaps is streaming movies and music.

Exactly how much, however, there are divided opinions about.

However, media reports that an hour of streaming would consume 6.1 kWh, as much as driving an electric car closer to 40 km, have proved exaggerated.

According to the International Energy Council, this is 0.8 kWh for one hour of viewing.

How much debt data traffic bears for global warming, however, depends on how electricity is produced, if it comes from renewable energy sources, the climate footprint is limited.

In addition, the extreme increase in the number of digital meetings has reduced the need to travel, which has reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

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Is Bitcoin really an environmental culprit?

Photo: SVT / TT / EPA

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