What is Net-Zero Emission? Trends and How to Achieve Net Zero

What is Net-Zero Emission? Trends and How to Achieve Net Zero

What is Net-Zero Emission? Trends and How to Achieve Net Zero https://www.esgenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/net-zero-2.jpg 975 650 ESG Enterprise ESG Enterprise https://www.esgenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/net-zero-2.jpg

The question on the minds of many organizations and individuals today is this: Is net zero carbon emissions by 2050 possible? It is not only possible but is now becoming technically realistic. But the path toward carbon neutrality is far from simple and will require a mix of approaches and concerted efforts to get there. In this post, we will examine the meaning of net-zero emission and how to achieve it. 

The UK and some other countries have recently made commitments to move to a net-zero emission economy. This is in response to a climate science report by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) which revealed that the only way to halt climate change is to reduce carbon emissions to zero. The report also states that to meet the 1.5°C global warming target in the Paris Agreement, global carbon emissions should reach net-zero around mid-century.

What is Net-Zero Carbon Emission?

The consensus among scientists is that the recent climatic changes are being triggered by a higher concentration of greenhouse gas (GHG) such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere. So it stands to reason that if GHGs are eliminated from the atmosphere, climate change will stop. This is the idea behind net zero-emission and the central message of IPCC’s 2018 report. Thus, net-zero emission refers to the removal of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere through reduction measures until the whole system is back in balance. Put another way, it means achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.

Think of it as a bath. When you turn on the taps and you add more water, and if you pull out the plug the water flows out. The amount of water in the bath depends on both the input from the taps and the output through the plughole. To keep the amount of water in the bath at the same level, you need to ensure that the input and output are balanced. 

Reaching net-zero applies the same principle, requiring us to balance emissions by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

The term net-zero is used to refer to greenhouse gas emissions overall or CO2 only. Hence the concept of carbon neutrality – balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal often through carbon offsetting.

To meet the goal of net-zero, new greenhouse gas emissions must be as low as possible. Thus, we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – and transition to renewable energy.

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Over the past few years, many countries have set targets or committed to do so, for reaching net-zero emissions on timescales compatible with the Paris Agreement temperature goals. They include the UK, Germany, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Iceland, Austria, and Finland.

Further, the European Union recently agreed to enshrine its political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050 in its European Climate Law.

So far, the UK, France, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have incorporated their net-zero targets into national law.

Additionally, several large oil and gas companies including BP and US-based independent Dominion Energy have recently adopted a long-term net-zero emissions target and more energy firms are very likely to follow suit.

How To Achieve Net Zero

Several approaches to offset greenhouse gas emissions and actualize net-zero targets have been recommended. They include electrification, afforestation, and deforestation, the transition to renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuels, and carbon capture technology.

All these techniques are vital are must be used in synergy to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. However, according to the World Economic Forum, there are three crucial structures that must be in place to attain this target.

Scaling up technology

All around the world, companies are developing solutions to make net-zero emissions possible. In hard-to-abate or heavy industries, technologies are already available to lower CO2 emissions and in steelmaking, cleaner electric arc furnaces can decarbonize the recycling of scrap metal.

However, many of these low-carbon solutions will need to be scaled up to make them more economically viable.

Policy changes

Today, policy changes have been crucial in helping to reduce carbon emissions. Renewable energy technologies like wind turbines and solar PV would not have reached their current level of market success without global and regional legislative support.

Similar support for other carbon-abatement technologies is needed to aid the development of decarbonization solutions in areas such as heating and industrial processes and reach net-zero emissions.

Creating demand

Energy taxation and carbon pricing are becoming more popular in some parts of the world. These policies make it less attractive to generate greenhouse gases and more appealing to invest in renewable technology.

Public procurement also has a role to play by prioritizing low-carbon products in any of its buying decisions so as to create demand and set an example.

Conclusion

Net-zero is vital because it’s the best way we can tackle climate change by reducing global warming. What we do in the next decade to reduce emissions will be critical to the future, which is why every country, sector, industry, and each one of us must work together to find ways to cut the carbon we produce.

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