- November 6, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Environment
Context – Race to “net zero” has become a rallying point for leaders and civil society
- Net zero is not part of the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015.
- It emerged as a concept in IPCC’s 2018 special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” (sr1.5), which said global emissions need to be 45 per cent lower than the 2010 levels in 2030 to keep the temperature rise to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level.
- The world must also become a net zero carbon emitter by 2050, the report said.
- To stay under 2°C, it has to be net zero between 2070 and 2085.
- This means carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must be negated by an equivalent amount of CO2 absorbed or removed by various means.
- To keep emissions “net-net” –
- countries can either plant trees and restore ecosystems in their territories for sequestering CO2, or
- increase the carbon offset programme of the world so that trees planted in the homes and habitats of poor countries are accounted in the carbon balance sheet of the rich paying countries
- The other option is to artificially sequester CO2 from the atmosphere and bury it permanently in the ground using carbon removal technologies.
- Of the 192 countries who have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 65 have announced national net-zero targets
- By 2021, Bhutan and Suriname are the only two countries that have achieved net zero—meaning, they sequester more carbon in their forests than they emit.
- Uruguay has set an ambitious net-zero target for 2030, and the rest of the countries have said that they will get there by 2050. China has set a target of 2060.
- The planet’s emissions are too much for its forests to sequester and carbon removal technologies are too expensive to be used at scale. There really is no substitute to reducing emissions.
Carbon removal technologies
- Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – it captures waste CO2 from large sources such as factories or fossil fuel power plants and stores it underground.
- CCS will also not have much impact when used in natural gas power plants as its share in the electricity mix, as IPCC indicates, will be be limited to 8 per cent by 2050.
- Direct Air Capture and Storage (DACS)– sucks CO2 directly from the air.
- Among the various carbon removal technologies, DACS is the only one that can remove carbon at climate-significant scales.
- If it is run on renewable energy, it could deliver negative emissions.
- However, it consumes large amounts of electricity, making the technology expensive
- Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) – captures CO2 from biomass-based power plants.
- BECCS threatens food security by promoting diversion of land for biofuel production.
IPCC states, if the world needs to be net zero by 2050,developed countries should have already turned net zero or do so latest by 2030.