Net Zero emissions
Net zero emissions refers to the state in which the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by human activities are balanced by removing an equivalent amount of GHGs from the atmosphere. It is a critical concept in addressing climate change and combatting global warming.
To achieve net zero emissions, countries, organizations, and individuals must reduce their GHG emissions as much as possible through various means, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, implementing sustainable practices, and adopting low-carbon technologies.
Any remaining emissions that cannot be eliminated are offset by actively removing or sequestering an equivalent amount of GHGs from the atmosphere, typically through activities like reforestation, afforestation, carbon capture and storage (CCS), or investment in renewable energy projects.
Net zero vs. carbon neutral
These are two different approaches to addressing GHG emissions.
Net zero emission
Net zero emphasizes the reduction of actual emissions at their source, aiming to balance emitted greenhouse gases with the amount removed from the atmosphere. This means that after maximum reduction efforts, remaining emissions must be counterbalanced with direct carbon removal techniques.
These techniques could be nature-based, like improving soil health or reforestation, or technology-based like direct air capture, which directly extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The key point here is the focus on removing carbon specifically associated with the entity's own emissions.
Carbon neutral refers to balancing the amount of emitted greenhouse gases with an equivalent amount offset or sequestered, often through carbon credits supporting projects like reforestation. It's a net-zero emissions effect, but can heavily rely on external offsetting methods.
Does Net Zero mean no emissions?
No, net zero emissions does not mean no emissions. It refers to achieving a balance between the amount of GHG emissions produced and the amount of emissions removed or offset. In a net zero emissions scenario, the goal is to reduce emissions as much as possible through mitigation efforts, transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and adopting sustainable practices. Any remaining emissions are then counterbalanced by activities that remove or offset an equivalent amount of GHGs, such as reforestation, carbon capture and storage, or investing in projects that remove an equivalent amount of emissions from the atmosphere.