What is the global strategy to achieve net zero?
Climate change has become an issue that cannot be ignored. Faced with the threat it poses, several countries have announced major commitments to reduce their emissions, seeking to achieve net zero emissions. And in turn, many companies and institutions have set similar targets to reduce their carbon footprint. Today we will discuss the strategies put forward by the world's major powers to achieve net zero.
Before we begin, we would like to clarify that as the term net zero has become increasingly popular, there has been some confusion as to what it means. Net zero as a goal is based on reducing to zero the carbon emissions generated throughout the value chain, i.e. from suppliers to the end consumer. However, this is not the same as carbon neutrality, which involves reducing emissions generated and then offsetting them in avoided emissions.
To achieve this goal at the global level, everything must change. Not just the economy, but policies, technology and people’s consumption habits. Energy, which is one of the sectors that generates the most carbon emissions, will have to change radically. Experts agree that by 2050 the share of renewables in power generation will have to reach around 70-85%.
In addition, a change in energy production would also allow us to rethink the way we transport ourselves or produce goods. In some sectors it is quite difficult to eliminate 100% of emissions, such as aviation, so we will have to try to eliminate the particulate matter emitted through technological or natural approaches, such as forest restoration.
The good news is that the necessary technology already exists and is affordable. The role of countries and institutions is crucial in achieving the world’s net zero emissions targets. This is why summits such as the COPs are held, where the commitments made by countries are reviewed and new measures are negotiated to move towards decarbonization.
Fortunately, there are now many countries that have great weight on the world economy and are on the right track. Today, more than 70% of countries have taken on ambitious targets. But commitments must be backed up by action. A very important step in achieving these targets is to draw up detailed action plans.
For Europe, the transition to a climate-neutral society is both an emergency and an opportunity to build a better future. To this end, it encouraged all European countries to communicate, before the end of 2020, their action plans to reduce emissions in the long term. In addition, it will invest a third of the 1.8 trillion recovery plan in what is known as the European Green Pact; a set of proposals and policies on climate, energy, transport and taxation, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030.
Europe so far has the most aggressive targets for decarbonization, but it is far from alone. In the United States, President Joe Biden has just approved an executive order calling on the government to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 or 100% electric vehicle purchases by 2035. This measure brings the United States in line with global targets.
For its part, China’s commitment is to reach peak emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2060. It also pledges to promote the use of non-fossil fuels by 25%.
In the coming years we will see if these strategies have an effect in reducing carbon emissions and we will soon dedicate an article to what we as companies and as individuals can do to achieve net zero. Combating climate change is a top priority.