Net-zero emissions signify the equilibrium between greenhouse gas emissions generated and those removed from the atmosphere, akin to balancing scales. The objective is to ensure that the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere does not exceed their removal on an annual basis.
To avert a climate crisis, it is imperative to minimize greenhouse gas emissions to the greatest extent possible. In essence, we must strive for genuine zero emissions and resort to carbon offsetting only when it becomes an absolute necessity. This necessitates a swift transition away from all fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and gas, and a comprehensive adoption of renewable energy across all sectors of the economy.
What is the Global Target For Net-Zero Emission?
The global target for net-zero emissions is to reach net zero by 2050. This goal is driven by the need to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. To achieve this, emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030.
What Characterizes an Effective Net-Zero Emissions Target?
According to the guidelines established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), certain criteria are essential for evaluating the adequacy of such a target:
1. Immediacy: Is the focus on the present? Reducing emissions during this decade is crucial to prevent the worst consequences. Therefore, any long-term net-zero target should be supplemented by interim objectives.
2. Viability: Does it include a credible strategy? A net-zero target should be accompanied by a well-defined plan for both immediate and long-term actions, without heavy reliance on carbon offsetting.
3. Speed: Is it rapid enough? The target should achieve emissions reduction by 2030, preferably even sooner. Emissions must peak by 2025 and decline rapidly thereafter to prevent severe climate impacts.
4. Transparency: Is progress visible? The target should be subject to annual reporting.
5. Inclusivity: Does it encompass all emissions? The target should encompass all greenhouse gases and apply to all sectors of the economy.
Also See: What is Carbon Offsetting?
What is an Example of Net-zero Emission?
A case in point of a company striving for net-zero status is Microsoft. The tech giant has set an exemplary standard by committing to achieve carbon negativity by 2030, implying its intention to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. Furthermore, Microsoft has set an ambitious goal to eliminate all the carbon it has released into the atmosphere since its inception in 1975 by the year 2050. This robust commitment serves as an outstanding illustration of a comprehensive approach to attaining net-zero emissions.
Microsoft’s strategy revolves around three core principles: reduction, electrification, and carbon capture. It involves a combination of measures such as enhancing the energy efficiency of their operations, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and employing carbon capture and storage technologies. Additionally, Microsoft is making a substantial investment of $1 billion in a new Climate Innovation Fund dedicated to technology development and carbon removal solutions. This showcases the transformative corporate actions necessary to meet the global net-zero target.
Must Read: What is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)?