What is Carbon Net-Zero? – The dictionary of climate change


“The Climate Change Dictionary” is all about the buzzwords in global climate change policy, and zero carbon footprint is the most buzzy!

Simply put, net zero is the state in which a country’s carbon emissions are removed from the atmosphere by absorption or sequestration of carbon, and by reducing all emissions as much as possible, balancing total emissions. and leading to what could be called “carbon neutrality”.

But why is Net-Zero important?

According to the recent IPCC report, the most important scientific report on climate change told us that all countries must reach net zero by 2050 to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius .

This means that if the world emits more carbon than it can remove from the environment, it will warm it by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Currently, we are at 1.1 degrees Celsius.

And if that happens, it will not only cause glaciers to melt, sea level rise and the death of polar bears, but also floods and droughts, severe heat waves and intense cold spells. and the loss of lives and livelihoods for millions of people.

How does Net-Zero influence global politics?

The United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change or United Nations COP 26 which takes place after two years from October 31 is a crucial event where countries declare their climate-related goals and strategies for the future to come.

And while the United States and China plan to declare ambitious goals to reach net zero by 2050 and 2060 respectively. India and other developing countries do not have a net zero target to announce and are under extreme pressure to do so.

Why does India not yet have a net zero target?

First, because despite being the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, India’s per capita emissions are well below the global average and especially in the United States and China. While the United States is responsible for 25% of cumulative global emissions, India is only 3% so far.

And while these countries which are historical emitters have exceeded their carbon quota, emerging countries like India say that we need to burn more coal to develop because we still have basic development parameters to achieve like l electricity in our villages.

Second, because we don’t have the money. Sequestering and reducing carbon emissions is costly in both money and technology. Which, for poverty-stricken and hungry countries like ours, is not so high on the priority list.

Developed vs developing countries

When the US and UK and a whole slew of first world countries polluted, they did so without any checks and balances and handed an already badly polluted environment over to younger nations like India.

These countries are now peddling a narrative that seems to place full responsibility for meeting global climate goals on emerging countries, failing which they are portrayed as the real bad guys of climate change.

At the same time, the developed world has often made promises that it will contribute the funds needed to achieve the net zero goals. But these promises have always gone far and little in between.

Billions of dollars from these “pledged funds” are long overdue. And fail to inspire much confidence among developing countries.

Also, the cost of carbon reduction will not be the same for all countries, higher emitters like US or UK could spend much less due to more efficient savings than countries with less emissions.

According to experts, the expectation of all countries to reach net zero at around the same time, regardless of when they started polluting, is unfair. Tax those who started late like India, and still leave legacy emitters like the United States a few more decades to pollute, even now.

So India or other developing countries are not the bad guys who make net-zero an unattainable goal for the world, but we are also taking a little longer to join the global action around net-zero. .

However, some experts say India has yet to study, understand and define in depth what net zero means for a diverse economy like ours. And it will take time, if we do not want to make hasty and unfounded promises under global pressure. While a few also disagree.

Either way, net-zero is a hot debate on the global stage and while it seems to be the key to solving all climate crises, many experts say it sounds a lot simpler than it looks. actually is. If not diligently followed, net zero goals would soon be reduced to rather empty claims based on unrealistic technology goals in the distant future.

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