The Paris Agreement of 2016 aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A significant part of this agreement involves achieving “net-zero” carbon emissions.
Net-zero carbon emissions simply mean that the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere is equal to the amount of carbon removed from it.
Is Net Zero Emissions by 2050 an achievable goal?
The encouraging news is that, yes, the technology that can help us achieve the ambitious target of net-zero exists, and countries are racing to honour that target by 2050.
But, achieving net-zero emissions requires the joining of finance, technology and infrastructure, and policy sectors and combined efforts from the respective authorities.
To help clarify how this intersection can be carried out, The International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organization, has released “Net Zero by 2050”. The world’s first comprehensive study has laid out a clear roadmap that policymakers must follow.
The study aims to reach the target of Net-Zero by laying out specific concrete objectives such as the usage of renewables and electric vehicles. Because most carbon emissions come from the energy sector, economies must be powered with clean and renewable energy. Promisingly, the renewable energy market is growing at an annual rate of 8.4% – with countries such as India and China driving the demand for renewables.
Next, it states the amount of investment that will be required in the clean energy sector to reach net-zero emission – it is 4 trillion dollars. The study also states the most significant opportunities in the clean energy sector – advanced batteries, hydrogen electrolyzers, and direct air capture and storage. The report also emphasizes the point that governments need to shift their focus to clean energy and climate policy and allocate a more significant part of their budgets to deploying these new technologies.
Sectors such as electricity, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, and forestry are the primary sources of greenhouse emissions. Out of these, energy productions form 72% of all emissions.
These industries have made the Earth 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution. This increase in overall heat has disastrous consequences, especially for vulnerable communities and countries.
It can be challenging for individual countries to manage their industries and support their populations, and this is where the Paris Agreement comes in. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding treaty that has been signed by 196 UN member countries. It provides a concrete framework for countries to support each other in achieving the targets.
At the same time, it must be understood that the Paris Agreement simply provides a platform for accountability and concrete targets. It alone cannot help us in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
It is clear that developed countries are obliged to support developing countries that have lower capacities through financial means and sharing of technology. For example, to facilitate this worldwide cooperation, the World Economic Forum has joined over 120 companies with $7.8 trillion to net-zero pledges.
Thus, it is only through global action and cooperation that we can hope to avoid the irreversible damage that climate change would bring.