About Us  :  Online Enquiry


Net Zero Carbon Targets and Climate Change: Oxfam Report

Net Zero Carbon Targets and Climate Change: Oxfam Report

Why in news?

  • Recently, a report (Tightening the Net) published by Oxfam International has said that announcing Net Zero Carbon Targets may be a dangerous distraction from the priority of cutting carbon emissions.
  • Many countries like New Zealand, UK, US, China and the European Union have set net-zero targets on greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change.
  • The report emphasises that reducing emissions cannot be considered a substitute for cutting emissions.
  • Oxfam International is a group of independent non-governmental organisations formed in 1995.

Key findings of report

  • The ‘net zero’ schemes are a Land-hungry scheme as it would require land resources for achieving the net-zero targets.
  • For tackling the challenge by planting more trees than about 1.6 billion hectares of new forests would be required to remove the world’s excess carbon emissions by the year 2050.
  • It could result in an 80 percent rise in global food prices and more hunger while allowing rich nations and corporates to continue “dirty business-as-usual”.
  • To limit global warming below 1.5°C and to the prevention of irreversible damage from climate change, the world needs to aim to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.
  • Currently, countries’ plans to cut emissions will result in a reduction of only one percent by the year 2030.

What does Net-zero mean?

  • Also referred to as carbon-neutrality, net-zero does not mean that a country would bring down the emissions to zero.
  • The emission would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there will be no emissions at all.
  • Therefore, in a net-zero state, a country’s emissions are compensated by the absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • The carbon can be absorbed is by creating carbon sinks such as a forest.
  • A country can have even negative emissions if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • For example-Bhutan has negative emissions as it absorbs more than it emits.

Achieving net-zero targets

  • One way by which carbon can be absorbed is by creating carbon sinks.
  • Until recently, the Amazon rainforests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, were carbon sinks.
  • But eastern parts of these forests have started emitting CO2 instead of absorbing carbon emissions as a result of significant deforestation.

Countries with net-zero targets

  • New Zealand: The New Zealand government passed the Zero Carbon Act in 2019, which committed the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, as part of the country’s attempts to meet its Paris climate accord commitments.
  • United Kingdom: The UK’s parliament passed legislation to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 % relative to 1990 levels by the year 2050.
  • United States: US president Joe Biden said that the country will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • In the US, a bipartisan organization called World War Zero was also launched in 2019 to bring together unlikely allies on climate change and to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the country by 2050.
  • European Union: The European Union announced the plan “Fit for 55”, which is to cut emissions by 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • China: China also announced that it would be a net-zero emitter by the year 2060 and would not allow emissions to peak beyond what they are in 2030.

What’s the difference between gross zero and net zero?

  • Given the impact that carbon emissions have on our planet, you might wonder why we aren’t aiming for zero, or gross zero, rather than net-zero.
  • Gross zero would mean stopping all emissions, which isn’t realistically attainable across all sectors of our lives and industry. Even with best efforts to reduce them, there will still be some emissions.                                                    Net Zero Carbon Targets and Climate Change: Oxfam Report
  • Net-zero looks at emissions overall, allowing for the removal of any unavoidable emissions, such as those from aviation or manufacturing.
  • Removing greenhouse gases could be via nature, as trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or through new technology or changing industrial processes.

What is carbon negativity?

  • It is even possible for a country to have negative emissions if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • Bhutan has negative emissions because it absorbs more than it emits

India’s objections

  • India is the only country opposing this target because it is likely to be the most impacted by it.
  • Over the next two to three decades, India’s emission is likely to grow at the fastest pace in the world, as it moves for higher growth to pull hundreds of millions of people out of the poverty.
  • No amount of afforestation or reforestation will be able to compensate for the increased emissions.
  • Most of the carbon removal technologies available now are either unreliable or very expensive.                      Net Zero Carbon Targets and Climate Change: Oxfam Report
  • According to India, the net-zero goal does not figure in the 2015 Paris Agreement. India is arguing that instead of opening up a parallel discussion on net-zero targets outside the Paris Agreement framework, countries must focus on delivering on what they have already promised.
  • It is well on its way to achieving its three targets of the Paris Agreement.


Mussoorie Times

Send this to a friend