Climatic catastrophes are no hidden secret today; the changing environment can be felt everywhere from the melting glaciers of Antarctica to scorching desert Sahara. Witnessing this present climate; everybody is agitated therefore more and more countries are pledging to become part of the global “net-zero emission” goal now.
But what is net-zero emission? Why the world’s future depend upon it and what devastation will happen if this goal is not met on time?
Net-zero emission is a global shared goal which aims to balance out greenhouse gases(GHG) in nature. Human activities have and are adding zillions of tons of GHGs in the atmosphere; which is the main culprit of almost every climatic catastrophe we witness today.
Hitting the net-zero goal will mean that GHGs net emission in the atmosphere would fall as close to zero as possible. GHGs due to human activities will still be excreted out in the air but; only in the amount that can be balanced out by an equivalent amount of carbon removal. In a nutshell, the concept of net-zero emission aims “climate neutrality”.
Why is meeting net-zero emission goal so important?
The average temperature of the earth is surging ever since the industrial-era kick-started. The pace at which global warming is increasing, if nothing is done; the temperature will keep on surging which will eventually make life on earth impossible to survive. The Paris Climate Agreement, therefore, is an accord that is signed by almost every country which calls for keeping the global temperature just up to 1.5 degrees Celcius in comparison to the net-global temperature in pre-industrial times.
Maintaining the global temperature at the required threshold would require collective efforts; every country will have to play their part. Net-zero emission can profoundly help to limit the escalating average temperature of the earth.
what devastation will happen if the goal is not met on time?
Now, the earth’s average temperature is 1.1 degrees Celsius hotter than the pre-industrial revolution. New technologies make our lives easier but they are also acting as a slow poison for our environment. The last decade i.e. 2010-2019 was the warmest recorded decade if things go on like they are now; then by the end of this century earth’s average temperature will be increased by 3 to 5-degrees.
At 1.1 degrees hotter, the catastrophes are speaking for themselves with blazing warm heatwaves, forest & bushfires, cyclones, unprecedented droughts, and whatnot. What could happen when the earth gets 5-degrees hotter is blood-curdling.
To let our earth be habitable every country will require to cut their emission as near to zero as viable. According to the Paris agreement, the deadline to reach a zero-emission of carbon dioxide goal in 2050 to 2052 and cutting the GHGs emission to zero, by 2063-2068. According to a report by the World Resource Institute (WRI); if the world cut its carbon dioxide net-emission to zero by 2070; then by the global average temperature would rise up to 2-degrees and further zero-emission of GHGs can be done by the end of the century.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s special report, if the world meets the net-zero emission goal by 2040; afterwards limiting the rising temperature of the earth would become much less challenging.
What needs to be done in order to meet the goal?
Switching our energy dependency from fossil fuels to green energy is the key that the world will have to adapt. According to the United Nations “Climate action is not a budget buster or economy-wrecker: In fact, shifting to a green economy will add jobs. It could yield a direct economic gain of US$26 trillion through to 2030 compared with business-as-usual. And this is likely to be a conservative estimate”.
New eco-friendly technologies, environmental-friendly policies and change in behaviour towards ecosystem can be the stepping stone towards our one shared goal. Afforestation, restoring degrading land, bringing down food waste can further help the nature to revive from the human damage quickly.
Even after reaching the goal in 2050, in the other half of the century, the world will be required to be less dependent on carbon removal. Apart from carbon dioxide, the other GHG’s that are vastly emitted like methane in the agricultural sources and some forms of hydrocarbons would be more challenging to phase-out.
The march towards one common goal
20 countries i.e. Austria, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Denmark, the European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have embraced the net-zero emission goal in law and policy documents. According to the Energy and Intelligence Climate Unit, a total of 120 countries have pledged to cut their carbon and GHG emissions.
Even though the road to our shared goal is tough but the good news is we have the technology required for the great shift. Generating power from solar and wind energy is cheaper then all the conventional power generating methods.
The change is already happening, the world is shifting its view from the one that dominates nature to the one that respects and collaterally walk with it. Net-zero emission requires great effort and the bright side is we are ready for that effort.