How to Reach Net-Zero Emissions?
What is Net Zero? Net zero is when CO 2 and other greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero so no additional man-made greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere. Emissions that cannot be reduced have to be offset by sinks such as forests that absorb and sequester CO2, or by some method of atmospheric carbon capture and storage.
Benefits of Net Zero!
Reaching net zero will stabilize but not immediately decrease the earth’s temperature. Temperatures will remain high until greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere are reduced naturally over a long time. Warming will continue, affecting weather and related climate phenomena. For example, ice caps will continue to melt, causing sea levels to rise until the earth’s temperature is reduced. However, reaching net zero will eliminate most air pollution.
Achieving Net Zero
To achieve net zero, the use of fossil fuels must be eliminated as much as possible. It will be necessary to phase out the use of internal combustion engines and power plants fueled by coal and natural gas. For those applications where fossil fuels can’t be eliminated, hydrogen or synthetic fuels produced from recycled CO 2 generated using electricity from green energy can substitute.
Changes in agriculture and land use are necessary since they account for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. It will be necessary to stop cutting down forests and to plant millions of trees in deforested areas.
If we aren’t willing to do these things, we can’t get to net zero. It is less a technical problem than a problem of economics, politics, and international relations. We can get there with the technology at hand or being perfected if we have the collective will to reach net zero.
The world’s leading industrial economies have to cooperate and lead this transition to a better world with abundant and affordable renewable energy. These countries are the largest source of greenhouse gases, and also have the technical, financial, and management resources needed to make the transition.
What is the global warming objective?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, established a goal to limit global warming to less than 2.0°C, its original objective first discussed in 1975.
In addition, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) asked for a lower limit, 1.5°C to reduce the disastrous effects sea level rise is having on these island nations.
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, set the long-term goal to be well below 2.0°C and to pursue a goal of 1.5°C. The Paris Agreement goals are objectives only, with no enforcement mechanism. Almost all member nations are behind in reaching their objectives under this agreement.
To meet these objectives net zero would have to be reached by 2050, only 30 years from now.
In our opinion, the IPCC goal of keeping the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels cannot be met. The earth’s average temperature has already increased 1.1°C and there hasn’t been any reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Mercator Research Institute’s carbon clock, 1.5°C will be exceeded in 7 years and 2.0°C will be exceeded in about 25 years if present trends continue.
A more realistic goal would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050 (compared to 2019 as a base year), with a downward trend in emissions to achieve net zero at some future date.