It cannot be made any more straightforward. To avoid severe climate impact and the possible destruction of humanity, we need to drop global greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2030 and be at net-zero around 2050.
Recognizing the need, some national governments are making a move towards net-zero emissions by the specified date, which is why sustainable industries and stocks like NASDAQ GEVO continue to see unprecedented growth.
Today, fifty countries have established they have a net-zero target, including China and the United States. The U.N. champions these targets and calls on cities, states, and regions to make plans to reach this net-zero emission by 2050.
What Is Net-Zero
Net-zero emissions mean all GHG emissions released by humans will be removed by the year specified. How do we get to net-zero? There are several things people, communities, and cities need to do to reduce the emissions as close to zero as possible.
Reduce Human-Caused Emissions
The first factor we need to deal with is the emissions produced by vehicles and factories. We need to get these emissions as close to zero as possible. The remaining GHG emissions can then be neutralized by activities such as forest restoration tasks.
What to Do To Achieve Net-Zero Emissions in a City, State, or Country?
Government policy, behavior, and technology need to shift across all areas. For example, to reduce global warming, which is only 1.5 degrees C in the next ten years, renewables need to supply 70 to 85% of all electricity by 2050.
Transportation needs to become energy efficient and switch its fuel methodology to reduce emissions. Food production needs to improve, and dietary choices must change to halt deforestation and restore degraded land loss and food loss. Both actions can reduce emissions substantially.
These are the ten key areas that need to change to make a community or country net-zero waste or eliminate all emissions for that country.
Phase-Out Coal Production
- Improve clean energy production
- Decarbonize by eliminating one-use plastics
- Build electric vehicles to replace gasoline vehicles
- Increase electric-powered public transportation
- Decarbonize air transportation
- Reduce food waste
- Halt deforestation
Scientists say that we must reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees C over the next ten years and continue to lower emissions until zero. Despite the monumental goal, the good news is that we do have much of the technology available. Solar and wind energies provide the lowest power energies, and they are available to 67% of the world population.
Can the World Reach Net-Zero on Time?
Despite the available technology and the intense need for emission reduction, progress is slow, and most countries may not reach the target by 2050. The climate action needs to be faster to get the 1.5C goal. This means these world industries need to change faster. The following information tells us just how quickly the different industries need to be.
- Renewable energies need to develop 6x faster
- Fossil fuel vehicles need to transition to electric cars 22x faster
- Increase forestation efforts by 5x
- Phase-out coal production by 5x
- Increase low carbon fuels by 8x
In some countries, emissions are getting worse, despite the growth of renewable energy. So adoption of these energies will need to increase by five to reach the 2030 or 2050 goals.
Are There Any Countries That Can Meet a Net-Zero Target?
The momentum is growing, and countries like the European Union, Bhutan, and Greenland have made commitments. Bhutan was the first to set the net-zero target in 2015.
As of today, Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world. They do this by reducing the number of tourists they allow in the country, preventing deforestation, allowing citizens access to hydro energy, and selling the remainder of their hydropower obtained from rivers and lakes back to Asia. They also have a contract with Nissan to phase in all-electric vehicles and eliminate fossil fuels by 2030.
Today, over 50 countries have a net-zero target, and many are working diligently towards achieving it.
Will Countries Meet Their Net-Zero Targets
The problem with these net-zero targets is that some countries do not reduce their emissions and instead rely on purchasing emission reductions from other countries and thereby reduce their targets.
Another issue with the net-zero targets is that 2050 feels like the distant future. Even so, the infrastructure we are using today can last for decades and have a significant impact on mid-century targets. Countries need to establish both near and future milestones for their net-zero goals.
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