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The Net-Zero Goal

The Net-Zero Goal

Why in news?

  • Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UK, France, and the UN, on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement has brought back the debate on the fairness issues regarding the Net Zero targets and the pathways regarding greenhouse gas emission reduction.

What is The Net-Zero Goal?

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • It does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • 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 good example is Bhutan which is often described as carbon-negative because it absorbs more than it emits.

Who Is Moving To Net Zero?

  • A number of countries have already set targets, or committed to do so, for reaching net zero emissions on timescales compatible with the Paris Agreement temperature goals. They include the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica (2050), Sweden (2045), Iceland, Austria (2040) and Finland (2035). The tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and the most forested country on earth, Suriname, are already carbon-negative – they absorb more CO2 than they emit.
  • In addition, the European Union recently agreed to enshrine its political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050 in its European Climate Law.

India’s Objections

  • India 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.
  • Most of the carbon removal technologies right now are either unreliable or very expensive.
  • 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.
  • Countries need to set five- or ten-year climate targets for themselves, and demonstrably show they have achieved them. The other requirement is that targets for every subsequent time-frame should be more ambitious than the previous one.
  • Implementation of the Paris Agreement has begun only this year. Most of the countries have submitted targets for the 2025 or 2030 period.
  • India has been arguing that instead of opening up a parallel discussion on net-zero targets outside of the Paris Agreement framework, countries must focus on delivering on what they have already promised.

India’s Current Climate Contribution

  • India is hoping to lead by example. It is well on its way to achieving its three targets under the Paris Agreement and looks likely to overachieve them.    The Net-Zero Goal
  • Several studies have shown that India is the only G-20 country whose climate actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C.
  • Even the actions of the EU, which is seen as the most progressive on climate change, and the US are assessed as “insufficient”.
  • In other words, India is already doing more, relatively speaking, on climate than many other countries.

Status Of Emission Reduction

  • Countries were expected to submit their upgraded national target before December 2020, but due to COVID disruption, only 13 countries, covering 2.4 percent of global emissions, have submitted such targets.
  • Although COVID lockdowns resulted in a temporary 4.2–7.5 percent reduction in GHGs, the achievement of 1.5 degrees Celsius target would require global carbon dioxide emissions to fall by 45 percent from the 2010 levels by 2030.
  • According to Emissions Gap Report 2020, Despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions due to Covid-19, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3 degrees C, by the end of this century.
  • According to the latest State of the Global Climate provisional report, 2020 is set to be among the three warmest years on record, and the decade 2011-2020 would be the warmest ever.



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