In layman’s terms, “net zero” refers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a level that is as close to zero as is practically attainable, with any remaining emissions being re-absorbed from the atmosphere by natural systems such as seas and forests.
Why it’s important?
The scientific research makes it abundantly evident that an increase in global temperature of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above its pre-industrial levels is required to protect the habitability of planet earth and escape the most severe consequences of climate change. At this point, the temperature of the Earth is now approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions are continuing to grow. To comply with the terms of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at most, emissions must be cut by 45 percent by the year 2030 and brought to zero by the year 2050.
How can we achieve net zero?
One of the greatest difficulties that civilization has ever faced is making the transition to a world with net-zero emissions. It requires nothing less than an entire overhaul of the ways in which we produce, consume, and move about in our society. The energy sector is responsible for approximately three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that are produced today and is the primary factor in determining whether the worst effects of climate change can be avoided. Carbon emissions might be cut by a significant amount of polluting forms of energy production like coal, gas, and oil were switched out for renewable forms of energy production like wind and solar.
Is there a worldwide attempt to achieve net zero?
The answer is yes; a rising number of nations, cities, businesses and other types of institutions have all made commitments to achieve net-zero emissions. Over seventy countries, including the world’s three largest polluters (China, the United States, and the European Union), have committed to achieving net-zero emissions, which account for approximately 76 percent of total worldwide emissions. More than 3,000 companies and financial institutions are participating in the Science-Based Targets Initiative with the goal of lowering their emissions in accordance with the findings of climate science. In addition, over a thousand cities, over a thousand educational institutions, and over four hundred financial institutions have joined the Race to Zero, making a commitment to take stringent and prompt action to cut global emissions in half by the year 2030.
How do we make sure that we act on it?
The rise in net-zero promises has been matched by more rigid criteria. UN Secretary-General António Guterres formed a High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities in March 2022 to develop tougher and clearer standards for non-State entities’ net-zero emissions pledges and speed up their implementation. In 2022, the Expert Group delivered their suggestions at COP27.
Can we achieve net zero by 2050?
No, government commitments to date fall short. Current national climate plans would lead to an 11% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. To reach net zero, all governments, especially the largest polluters, must improve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and reduce emissions immediately. The Glasgow Climate Pact asked all countries to evaluate and reinforce their 2030 NDC targets by the end of 2022, but only 24 did so by September 2022.
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