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What is 2050 Net-Zero Goal?

2050 Net-Zero Goal:

John Kerry, the US President’s Special Envoy on Climate, is currently on a three-day visit to India. One of the objectives of Kerry’s visit is to explore whether India can agree to the possibility of pledging itself to a 2050 net-zero goal.

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • Rather, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • Absorption of the emissions can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while the removal of gases from the atmosphere requires futuristic technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
  • This way, it is even possible for a country to have negative emissions, if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • A very active campaign has been going on for the last two years to get every country to sign on to a net-zero goal for 2050.
  • It is being argued that global carbon neutrality by 2050 is the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the planet’s temperature from rising beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial times.
  • Current policies and actions being taken to reduce emissions would not even be able to prevent a 3–4°C rise by the turn of the century.

India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China, is the only one opposing this target because it is likely to be the most impacted by it.

  • Over the next two to three decades, India’s emissions are likely to grow at the fastest pace in the world, as it presses for higher growth to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
  • No amount of afforestation or reforestation would be able to compensate for the increased emissions. Most of the carbon removal technologies right now are either unreliable or very expensive.
  • India also argues that the net-zero goal does not figure in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the new global architecture to fight climate change.
  • The Paris Agreement only requires every signatory to take the best climate action it can.

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