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Carbon Neutrality: How to Achieve it and Why It Matters

by | Jul 25, 2022 | Sustainability




Why carbon neutrality is important?

We’re ruining our planet. We are ruining it every day just by living our lives. Our life is unsustainable and everything is designed so that we consume more. Every human activity or consumption creates a certain byproduct that affects the planet. 

Today man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet faster than at any time in human history. Some believe that global warming is 100% due to humans. Human activities have created an urgent crisis that threatens our well-being or even our very existence.

The climate stability of the past twelve thousand years has come to an end and every living thing around the world is now suffering from the impact. The effects of climate change can be seen and felt differently across the globe.

Severe heatwaves, record wildfires, rising seas,  devastating floods, catastrophic hurricanes, and long-term droughts are all direct or indirectly related to climate change.

Imagine a world where the ice caps have melted thus rising sea levels by around 70 meters. Vast areas of land, major ports, and capital cities are underwater. Island nations disappearing and hundreds of millions of people displacing and relocated.

A massive expansion of deserts and the mass extinction of plants and animal species. Changing seasonal patterns completely devastates the food supply where crops can no longer be grown.

These calamities are already devastating different parts of the world with no sign of slowing down. These effects of climate change will continue to intensify and become harsher in a near future.

It’s undeniable that the climate crisis we are facing is due to human activity. The cause of this crisis is global warming which is the increase of certain gases in the atmosphere that retain heat.

It is estimated that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 and we need to achieve net zero by mid-century. Net zero means removing every molecule of greenhouse gas we put into the air.

It is estimated that over 90% of the problem that has completely altered the climate are due to carbon-based gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide (CO2). It is scientifically proven that there is a direct relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

CO2 is important. It is one of the main gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and generate the greenhouse gas effect. This condition enables human beings to live comfortably on Earth.

Without that, the temperature on earth will be reaching a freezing point as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. Every year, the planet releases 730 gigatonnes of CO2. But the planet also naturally captures 700 gigatonnes of CO2 which keeps a balance in our ecosystems.

The greenhouse gas effect is good by design but human activity has completely altered it by emitting more into the atmosphere. Once it is released into the atmosphere, it gets trapped resulting in the planet warming up.

Around 200 years ago, since the Industrial Revolution, humans started to add an excessive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. And as of today, we have reached 40 gigatonnes related to human activities which have created disequilibrium in our atmosphere. We are emitting more than the planet can absorb.

It is estimated that we will need to remove between 500 and 1000 gigatonnes of CO2 over the 21st century to even dream about mitigating the climate crisis that we have started. If not, it is something that our children will have to live with.

The solution is to take out the excess carbon dioxide we are emitting out of the atmosphere. This is why we are hearing about the concept of carbon neutrality to combat this phenomenon. Carbon neutrality is about reducing the negative impact of our emissions from the atmosphere.

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality is about balancing CO2 emissions to reach the state of net zero. The goal of being carbon neutral is to balance our total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions with the amount we remove from the atmosphere.

To go carbon neutral, you need to understand what “carbon footprint” is. It is the amount of CO2 released as a result of a particular activity. CO2 is produced by everything that we do, from driving a car to powering a house. All these activities contribute to our climate.

Going carbon neutral means that our CO2 emissions are offset by measures that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. This can be as simple as installing solar panels on your home or switching to an electric vehicle.

Carbon neutrality can also mean that a company is attempting to reduce its emissions without changing the nature of its operations. This concept is essential in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Carbon neutrality can be achieved through several means, including energy efficiency, renewables, and fuel switching. By purchasing carbon credits and supporting renewable energy projects, we can achieve net-zero emissions in our daily lives.

How carbon neutrality can be achieved?

To reach net zero emissions, we must reduce our emissions as close as possible to net zero. We must also phase out coal and start to invest heavily in clean energy, shift to electric vehicles, protect forests, and reduce food loss and waste.

To achieve net zero we must make big changes today. Changing our consumption habits like using less and more efficiently. On a larger scale, we need more technological changes for replacing all greenhouse gas-emitting activities with clean ones.

The primary source of greenhouse gas is our energy usage and generation. Our main source of energy comes from burning coal, oil, and gas. The biggest opportunity to achieve carbon neutrality is to reduce our dependency on these sources.

In order to achieve carbon neutrality, countries will have to increase their share of non-fossil energy. They will also need to develop and deploy negative-emission technologies on a large scale.

There are two ways in which that can be achieved. The first one is by planting more trees that will absorb the CO2 naturally. And the second one is with the use of carbon removal technology. Emerging technologies such as direct air capture can be used to achieve that.

We already have technologies for renewable energy generation and energy storage that are environmentally friendly. We must also make carbon capture and storage become a reality. Which is the process of capturing greenhouse gases from the air and storing them permanently.

So we need to remove the equivalent amount of GHG that is being pumped into the atmosphere. Carbon offsets help businesses achieve this goal. These credits are issued in exchange for goods and services.

Buying carbon credits can also help companies reduce their emissions to net zero. A company can become CO2-neutral by using offsets and lowering its overall carbon output. These steps will result in net-zero carbon output and help reduce the effects of global warming.

To achieve carbon neutrality, an organization must first measure and calculate its operational emissions in tonnes. It must then invest in a verified carbon offset project to offset the footprint created by its operations.

Carbon offset projects support the prevention, reduction, and capture of greenhouse gases. Organizations without this certification may be misleading or inaccurate. Carbon offsets are a way to balance the emissions of a company and other industries.

The offsets are purchased to compensate for the emissions a company can’t eliminate. By the end of the process, the company will have net-zero emissions. Offsets help mitigate the effects of climate change and are a good way to reduce CO2.

The first step in becoming carbon neutral is to conduct a system-wide emissions audit. Using this audit, you can calculate how much CO2 you produce and invest in projects that absorb GHGs.

These projects help prevent emissions from entering the atmosphere. Then, you can make changes in your business to lower your emissions. It’s easy to achieve carbon neutrality if you’re committed to reducing your emissions.

Another key strategy to achieve carbon neutrality is to generate clean electricity from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources such as solar power can help businesses achieve this goal and are free of CO2.

Coal-powered power stations account for a large proportion of emissions. Carbon pricing is one way to shift the burden from the taxpayer to the polluter. It can also mandate the publication of information on climate risks.

If a country becomes carbon neutral, it will promote sustainable economic growth, green jobs, and improved planet health. One of the greatest benefits of being carbon neutral is that it can help to create a movement of people who are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing the use of electricity generated from renewable sources and gradually eliminating the use of fossil fuels can help in the effort to reduce the effects of climate change.

What we eat and the way we produce food also matters. Our agricultural practices have a huge impact on the planet as it is highly inefficient and unsustainable.

The sector consumes 70% of the earth’s freshwater, responsible for land degradation, food waste, heavy usage of pesticides and fertilizer, responsible for more than 20-40% of greenhouse gas and most of the food must travel a long distance before arriving at your plate.

It is vital to turn to more sustainable practices in the way we produce crops like harnessing technology to improve and monitor yield. Embracing precision farming is the perfect solution to increase the efficiency of agriculture.

And a more sustainable practice can be vertical farming. Vertical farming is the process where crops are grown on vertical stack shelve, thus reducing the need for a large surface to grow food. It also uses different technologies to efficiency and improve yield.

Decarbonization is one of the great challenges facing humanity. The transportation sector is responsible for around 20% of the global GHG. Working on electrical and hybrid propulsion vehicles is also an excellent way to reduce carbon emissions.

And we can harness the power of tidal energy, green hydrogen, and fusion energy to compensate for the reduction in fossil fuel This can indicate a great sign where we are transiting a non-fossil fuel world.

Also, cities around the world are home to more than 55% of the global population. It is also responsible for two-thirds of the global carbon emission as well as consumes two third of the world’s energy.

This is why cities are a major focus in the battle to curb climate change. Adopting a green city, wooden skyscrapers and sustainable city initiatives, and net zero houses can be a great start to reducing GHG.

The issue of energy consumption can be reduced by turning infrastructure smart like smart buildings, smart offices, smart homes, and smart spaces. On a larger scales smart city can help manage the overall efficiency of urban areas.

The transition to carbon neutrality is essential because it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to renewable energy is one way to achieve this. But achieving net zero requires major abatement of emissions across all sectors of the economy.

But the transition is not without its challenges. There is a big chance that governments will have to stall economic development in developing countries. Developing countries will need climate financing to help them implement the necessary measures.

Future of carbon neutral

This is a critical time in the global effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The world is facing a climate crisis and the transition must be rapid to prevent more damage to our planet.

The necessary transition to hit zero carbon in the next 30 years is going to change the global economy. Every aspect of it is going to change. Trillions of dollars worth of investment will have to be made over the next few decades.

Several countries have already committed to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050. And countries like Norway and Finland are even more ambitious as they aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and 2035 respectively.

In the meantime, the European Union, Japan, and South Korea have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. But, this goal will require ambitious policies starting now.

The European Union is committing to ambitious climate policies that aim to make the EU the first continent to be carbon neutral by 2050. The European Parliament has backed climate neutrality and has backed a 60% emission reduction target for 2030.

The transition to a carbon-neutral world will require deep top-down reforms of the economy and society. It is estimated that by 2050, 65% of global emissions will be CO2-neutral, and 70% of the world’s economy will be carbon-neutral.

Companies are beginning to realize the importance of carbon neutrality. Some have committed to reaching this goal by 2030. IKEA, for example, has announced that it will operate entirely on renewable energy.

Other companies, like Microsoft, have committed to becoming carbon-negative by 2030. Google has also recently pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 and Lyft has promised to operate all cars on electricity.

However, these initiatives require significant changes in operations and energy sources. The American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobby in the US oil and gas industry, has made clear that it supports the transition to a lower carbon future.

Although oil and gas will still play a role in this transition, they are unlikely to contribute as much as they once did. Ordinary citizens can play a large role in reducing emissions. For example, changing habits could reduce emissions by 4% in developed countries.

While a zero-carbon world is certainly a noble goal, the implementation of carbon trading is controversial. It may not actually be a solution to the problem. Some critics claim that carbon trading is nothing more than a way of passing the buck, like doing one good thing in one sector does not compensate for damages elsewhere.

Instead, we need to focus on planting trees, utilizing renewable energy sources, and actively seeking less harmful alternatives to fossil fuels. The future of the world economy is dependent on the ability of countries to reduce their emissions.

As a global leader, China is a carbon-intensive country and must take responsibility for its actions. China must transition its economy from carbon-intensive manufacturing to a service-based economy. At the same time, it must decarbonize its electricity generation.

The Chinese government on their part has committed to a carbon-neutral economy by 2060. The president recently stated that peaking CO2 emissions is important for building an ecological civilization.

China’s goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, but this will require a massive reduction in emissions and energy efficiency in the country. This will require the use of new technologies to offset emissions in the energy sector.

Among other efforts, the Chinese government has embraced energy efficiency and building a clean energy system. Furthermore, it has begun to engage in climate policy in an effort to address domestic concerns, improve its economy, and build a green silk road.

The Paris Agreement provides the framework for countries to set goals and increase ambition. With the help of carbon neutrality coalitions, countries have begun to take bold action on cutting emissions.

Cities have been taking aggressive steps to curb their emissions, and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance has a list of multiple cities across the world that are already decarbonizing rapidly.

Meanwhile, the Under2Coalition comprises 205 jurisdictions and 43 countries to develop a deep decarbonization plan for 2050. In addition, 412 companies have committed to science-based targets.

The United Nations Climate Change Organization has launched an initiative called “Climate Neutral Now”. The goal is to achieve net zero emissions and a carbon-neutral world by 2050.

The transition to neutrality is complicated by multiple factors, including technological development, resources, policy, and competition between companies. The world is facing an urgent challenge and it is imperative that we do our part in taking action now.

The process of becoming carbon-neutral has many ramifications for the world. It will trigger profound top-down reforms in every area of society. This transition has not been fully explored in the social sciences.

It is also very expensive, disruptive, and currently not achievable. But if we’re willing to take this step, it will benefit us and our planet. That is why we need to do our part to go carbon neutral.

Final words

We are all deeply aware of the scale of the threat posed by climate change. The way we produce and consume energy is the main contributor to climate change.

Carbon neutrality initiatives are a way to change our habits by including emissions reduction and renewable energy growth. It is a responsible attitude toward the environment that contributes to a sustainable future.

If we want to even have a chance of stabilizing the temperature of our warming temperature, we’ll have to be very aggressive in what we do from all angles. The technology exists but we have to be very aggressive about retrofitting them.

We also have to continue incentivizing the reduction of demand and the amount of energy consumed per household. And we need to be genuinely optimistic in responding to that great challenge, in order to bring together new ideas and innovations.

We also need a new generation of leaders with the required skill set to navigate and inspire us through the coming decades. This way maybe we will have an opportunity to make progress and tackle this global problem.

Every economy, community, society, corporation, government, and ultimately, every citizen will have to get involved and change the way we live. It is not just about a technological revolution but a revolution in our mindsets.

But above all, it is very clear that we cannot fail to solve this crisis. There are huge opportunities to get things right.