What is Net Zero:
Net-zero means achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. When the entire man-made greenhouse gases are taken out of the atmosphere, then the net-zero goal will be achieved.
The net-zero emission
Net-zero refers to a state where a nation’s emissions are compensated by the absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is even possible for the countries to be carbon-negative. Carbon-negative refers to a state where the absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere exceeds the actual emissions. Bhutan is often termed a carbon-negative nation as it absorbs more than it emits.
Absorption of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere can be done with the help of forests while the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere can be done with the technologies such as carbon capture and storage. Through these technologies, carbon dioxide emissions can be captured from industries and power plants and can be reused.
How Net zero can be achieved:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by taking several steps such as developing renewable energy resources instead of burning fossil fuels, replacing fuel-based vehicles with electric vehicles, developing efficient technologies etc. Energy, transportation and manufacturing sectors need to adopt net-zero target.
- Creating carbon sinks to store carbon dioxide by removing it from the atmosphere. Plants and the ocean are natural carbon sinks as they absorb co2 from the air. So, by creating additional forest and tree cover, some amount of carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere.
- By utilizing carbon capture technologies. Carbon capture technologies can help in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in the deep underground, where it cannot be released back into the atmosphere.
Steps taken worldwide:
- Several countries including the UK, the US, New Zealand, Brazil have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050.
- Sweden kept the net-zero goal for the year 2045.
- India has not promised any deadline yet.
- Bhutan and Suriname are carbon negative countries, which means they absorb more carbon than they emit.
- Many countries, especially developed countries did not reach the goals that were promised in previous climate summits. So, many are of the opinion that the net-zero promise may also be delayed.
- Historically, the US and EU countries caused most of the carbon emissions by rapid industrialization. So, they have to reach the net-zero goal much earlier instead of delaying it till 2050. Moreover, developing countries like India are yet to reach peak emissions and hence cannot afford to declare the target year. So, expecting all the countries to reach the goal by mid-century is unfair.
- Carbon capture technologies are still in the development stage. So, depending on these technologies to reach the net-zero goals is unrealistic. And this concept may also undermine the importance of reducing carbon emissions by the transition to greener economies.Also Read:- How To Prepare For Group Discussion Tips
Why is India objecting to net-zero by 2050?
It is well known that India is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. While the US and China are committed to a net-zero goal, India has not yet pledged itself to net-zero by 2050. Despite being one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, India is objecting to net-zero by 2050 as it aims to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
As per the predictions made by the International Energy Agency, much of India’s future emissions will come from the things that do not exist now such as industries, buildings, and transport infrastructure. As a result, India’s emissions are likely to grow at a rapid rate over the next two to three decades and no amount of afforestation or reforestation could compensate for the increased emissions. Also, the carbon removal technologies that we are familiar with are either too expensive or unreliable.
India also underscored that the developed nations have never delivered on their commitments to climate change. Under the Kyoto Protocol (the climate regime preceding the Paris Agreement), no developed country achieved the emission cut targets assigned to them and most of them openly walked out of it. Also, the developed countries have not provided money and technology to the developing and poor nations as committed to helping them tackle the impacts of climate change.
After looking at several studies, it can be said that India is the only G-20 nation that is committed to the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C. The European Union which is said to be the most progressive on climate change and the United States are termed as insufficient.
Thus, India has been insisting that the developed nations must take more ambitious steps now to compensate for the unfulfilled commitments that were earlier made. India does not rule out the possibility of achieving net-zero by 2050 but it is hesitant to make an international commitment in advance.
India’s Paris Agreement Targets
On 22 April 2016, India signed the Paris Agreement. The agreement highlighted that every signatory must take the best climate action but nowhere mentions the net-zero emission goal. While most of the countries have already submitted their targets for the 2025 or 2030 period, India argues that the countries must focus on delivering what they have already promised rather than opening up a parallel discussion on net-zero emission outside the Paris Agreement.
India has pledged to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels. In addition to this, it also aims to generate 40% of India’s power through renewable energy and is committed to creating a carbon sink through forests that can suck 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Net-zero goal is highly challenging and very much needed. This should not be delayed like the previous climate goals. And all the countries should keep short term targets, without which reaching the bigger goal will be nearly impossible. Developed countries, which caused most of the carbon emissions historically should help developing countries to transition to zero carbon-emitting countries by helping them financially and also through technology transfer.
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