02 Nov Net zero’ carbon targets to tackle climate change
Net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere
How it can be achieved:-
Net-zero emissions will be achieved when all GHG emissions released by humans are counterbalanced by removing GHGs from the atmosphere in a process known as carbon removal.
First and foremost, human-caused emissions (such as those from fossil-fueled vehicles and factories) should be reduced as close to zero as possible. Any remaining GHGs should then be balanced with an equivalent amount of carbon removal, which can happen through things like restoring forests or using direct air capture and storage (DACS) technology.
When Does the World Need to Reach Net-Zero Emissions?
Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit warming well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), ideally to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). Global climate impacts that are already unfolding under today’s 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) of warming — from melting ice to devastating heat waves and more intense storms — show the urgency of minimizing temperature increase.
The latest science suggests that reaching the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals will require reaching net-zero emissions on the following timelines:
In scenarios limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C, carbon dioxide (CO2) needs to reach net-zero between 2044 and 2052, and total GHG emissions must reach net-zero between 2063 and 2068. Reaching net zero earlier in the range avoids a risk of temporarily overshooting 1.5 degrees C. Reaching the top of the range almost guarantees surpassing 1.5 degrees C for some time before it eventually drops down.
In scenarios limiting warming to 2 degrees C, CO2 needs to reach net zero by 2070 (for a 66% likelihood of limiting warming to 2 degrees C) to 2085 (with a 50-66% likelihood). Total GHG emissions must reach net-zero by the end of the century or beyond.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5˚C, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), finds that if the world reaches net-zero emissions by 2040, the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C is considerably higher. The sooner emissions peak, and the lower they are at that point, the more realistic achieving net zero becomes.
What Needs to Happen to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions?
Policy, technology and behavior need to happen to achieve this. For example, in pathways to 1.5 degrees C, renewables are projected to supply 70-85% of electricity by 2050. Energy efficiency and fuel-switching measures are critical for transportation. Improving the efficiency of food production, changing dietary choices, halting deforestation, restoring degraded lands and reducing food loss and waste also have significant potential to reduce emissions.
Is the World on Track to Reach Net-Zero Emissions?
Despite the benefits of climate action, progress is happening far too slowly for the world to reach net-zero by mid-century or meet emissions reductions necessary by 2030.
India’s efforts to adapt to climate change
Firstly, India is set to significantly exceed its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing the emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Secondly, India is leading with the roll-out of renewable energy and an expanded target for 450GW by 2030.
Thirdly, It is taking leadership on the International Solar Alliance and recent national hydrogen strategy.
Fourthly, Indian corporates are also stepping up, with the Tata Group winning awards on sustainability, Mahindra committing to net zero by 2040 and Reliance by 2035.
By Mahima Pant
Geography Optional Faculty