Are we clear about what net zero means in the year 2050?
When you talk to people about climate change, almost no one is clear about what “net zero” means (being neutral in polluting emissions) and how it will be affected by it. At the Paris summit in 2015, more than 196 countries pledged to ensure that the earth’s temperature does not exceed 1.5ºC in 2050, and for this it is necessary that the pollution on that date is “net zero”.
Net zero means that no additional amount of polluting gases is added to the atmosphere. Which is easier said than done.
The problem is that by that date not all pollution can be reduced to zero, and the remaining pollution will have to be compensated by other means, either by planting more trees, or removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground, or by other means. .
Planting more trees, although it is positive that it is done, we can forget about it. There is not enough natural space to plant as many trees as would be needed. Then we must return to the origin of the problem, which is polluting less.
We are the people who have to mentalize ourselves and it will not be easy at all. Starting with flying less and only when strictly necessary until non-polluting flights are available. Continuing with the car, which must be electric, without forgetting to promote public transport.
Continued by what we eat, less red meat; and how we live, with non-polluting electrical energy; and how we build, using non-polluting steels and cements; and etc, etc, etc….
There are so many things that must be changed that the challenge is very, very difficult, although almost nothing is impossible.
There are some countries that have already warned that they will not reach the net zero date in 2050. China and Russia say they will arrive in 2060, India in 2070, and other highly populated countries do not say anything yet.
And since the effects of climate change are global, countries cannot cheat with each other. A non-polluting country could not (for example) buy cement from another country that manufactures it, polluting the environment.
There are so many things to take into account, so many vested interests and such a big change to be made, that unless there is some unforeseen technological change (fusion energy, etc …) in the coming years, I believe that we will exceed the threshold of 1,5 ° C. And I wish I’m wrong.
What I am arguing here is that a total and absolute life change is needed, and I highly doubt that it can be achieved in just 30 years.
I would love to be wrong, but… ..