Can We Build A Carbon-Neutral World By 2050? Answer: We Don’t Have A Choice!

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“There is no hint that help will come (on Earth) from elsewhere to save us from ourselves, Carl Sagan in his 1994 book, ‘Pale Blue Dot’.

We are living in the 21st century, the century of climate change and doing nothing anywhere near to limit climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising when they should be falling.  The UN Emissions Gap Report 2019, says that global greenhouse emissions would need to fall by 7.6% every year between now and 2030 to stop severe climate crisis in the coming decades.

Countries need to take urgent climate action or should be ready to face a dark future with rising seas, extreme weather events and increased human misery. Climate Neutrality, a climate action, is essential to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by mid-21st century—a target laid down in the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries.

What Is Climate Neutrality?

Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether. It is used in the context of ‘carbon dioxide releasing’ processes associated with transportation, energy production, agricultural and industrial processes. The concept may be extended to include other greenhouse gases (GHGs), in terms of their ‘carbon dioxide equivalence’.

‘Climate Neutral’ was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2006, which reflects the broader inclusiveness of other greenhouse gases in climate change, even if CO2 is the most abundant.

Achieving ‘Carbon Neutrality‘ is very important for all of us because it will help ensure an eco-friendly and sustainable future for us.

Steps To Achieve Carbon Neutrality, Globally

Image via Flickr

Climate neutrality can be achieved if climate change-encouraging ‘greenhouse gases’ are completely avoided or saved elsewhere. According to the UN Environment, the carbon dioxide emissions account for 82% of global warming, and the rest comes mainly from much potent methane and nitrous oxide.

Globally, the average concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 410 parts per million (ppm) in 2019, up from 400.1 ppm in 2015. Methane and nitrous oxide concentrations also rose, along with ozone-depleting CFC-11.

According to the UN Environment, the climate neutrality can be achieved by addressing the climate footprint of an individual, organisation, sector, household, institution, industry or a nation through a 3-step method:

  1. Measure the carbon footprint (greenhouse gas emissions).
  2. Reduce the emissions as much as possible through climate actions like consumption of renewable electricity (wind, solar, hydro, solar thermal, etc.), improving the energy efficiency of processes, technological innovation in low carbon, plantation, agricultural measures etc.
  3. Compensate those who cannot be currently avoided by using UN Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), a type of carbon credit. CERs are carbon credits generated by the UN to support climate-friendly projects.

By buying credits to compensate one’s unavoidable emissions, one can:

  • Rewards these projects located in developing countries and encourages the development of new ones;
  • Helps bring sustainable development benefits to communities, such as improved air and water quality, improved income, improved health, reduced energy consumption and much more;
  • Contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

What Can We Do?

At grassroots, every individual, household, society, organisation, institution should take responsibility for the carbon emissions that we cannot currently avoid. Try to reduce carbon footprint at the emission stage as much as possible, along with compensating for those that we cannot eliminate.

Every step we take is important because every action has a ‘carbon footprint’, which we will have to reduce for a better Earth and life on this beautiful planet. At present, Earth is under severe pressure of GHGs. A tonne of carbon is equivalent to 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), which means this would be equivalent to about eight years of global emissions at current rates. So, a ‘Climate Neutral’ society should be our aim. Regulating carbon emissions down to net-zero by 2050 will help in ending the global climate crisis.
This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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