Skip links

Net-zero future possible despite complex sectors

Climate Change is a worldwide emergency. It calls for global collaboration and co-ordination.

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, leaders made a significant advancement on December 12, 2015: the historic Paris Agreement. The Agreement outlines long-term objectives to direct all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly to keep the rise in global temperature to two degrees Celsius while pursuing attempts to keep it to 1.5 degrees.

The Agreement also focused on financing developing nations to fight climate change, build resilience, improve capacity to cope with its effects, and review nation commitments every five years.

The Paris Agreement is substantial if we are all momentous about fighting climate change. Nations have agreed to decrease their emissions and cooperate; and, the Agreement encourages them to make more substantial pledges over time.

The Paris Agreement is a robust framework that will direct the international effort for many years. It ushers in a call toward a world with net-zero emissions by 2050. But what does it take to achieve a net-zero world?

Net-zero refers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as closely as feasible to zero, with any leftover emissions being reabsorbed from the atmosphere, for example, by oceans and forests.

To prevent the worst effects of climate change and maintain a livable planet, reducing CO2 is inevitable.

Carbon emissions are responsible for 81 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions, and businesses are responsible for a big share of these emissions.

It is imperative that businesses monitor and report their emissions based on the three scopes.

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from company-owned and controlled resources. Scope 2 type are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, from a utility provider while Scope 3 are all indirect emissions not included in scope 1 and 2 and occurs in both upstream and downstream emissions.

One of the biggest problems we face as humanity is the transition to a net-zero planet. It demands nothing less than a radical change in how we produce and consume.

It should come as no surprise that the top climate scientists in the world think that since the middle of the 20th-century human activity is most likely the primary driver of global warming.

According to scientists, around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions now come from the energy sector, which also holds the key to preventing the worst effects of climate change.

Carbon emissions would be significantly reduced if electricity from renewable sources, like wind or solar, were to replace dirty coal, gas, and oil-fired power. Many of these solutions are already in use.

Read also: Community engagement as part of sustainability

Individuals can take on some of these challenges by using less energy, biking instead of driving, driving electric vehicles, and converting to renewable energy sources.

Communities, regions, or countries can also switch power plants from using coal or gas to renewable energy and expanding public transportation.

The challenging part is for several heavy industry sectors with no other alternative solutions to achieving net-zero carbon emissions, such as aluminum, cement, chemicals, steel, aviation, trucking, and shipping. They are commonly referred to as being “hard to abate.”

This is due to the substantial complexity of these solutions. While aviation and transportation primarily depend on fossil fuels, the problem with cement is its manufacturing.

This, therefore, calls for ambitious business leaders, the finance sector and governments to design and implement supportive policies that align the decarbonisation pathways of heavy industry with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C.

Carbon-neutral flights

The aviation sector has agreed upon a proactive plan to transition to carbon-neutral flights globally.

Several companies have signed the 2030 Ambition Statement meant to accelerate the supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels.

It aims to supply 10 percent of the world’s jet aviation fuel by 2030. Airlines, airports, fuel providers, and other aviation innovators from throughout the world are among the signatory businesses.

The maritime industry on the other hand has united to have all deep-sea commerce routes serviced by zero-emission vessels.

Communities, cities, businesses, and governments are banding together to take action. The worst effects of climate change are still avoidable, and we can create a safer future for everyone.