Is Net Zero Unachievable? 

17 August, 2022

Is Net Zero Unachievable? 


Recently, we have been hearing companies and governments are trying to achieve the “net zero” target for greenhouse gas emissions by a particular date. However, many corporations and governments argue that it is just a mere example of greenwashing and needs to be replaced with actual zero policies based on long-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gases. 


The problem with net zero target


Big corporations are releasing net-zero pledges daily. They think that the emissions from burning fuels and other sources can be compensated by planting more trees or protecting the available forest lands. They forget that while plants require time to offset the emissions, cutting down the consumption provides an immediate solution. 


Another problem with net zero pledges is that there is no limitation over the reduction or increase in carbon removal. It is assumed that all the net zero pledges would help achieve the 2050 target but ignores cutting down the emissions. 


Arguments on Net Zero Targets 


  1. Many mention that instead of real solutions to resolve the issues, the corporations work on the net zero targets with inadequate solutions or strategies to control emissions. The companies are expected to own up to the responsibility for the emissions created at the source. The corporations view ‘net-zero’ as an opportunity to generate more business opportunities rather than curtailing production or products that cause pollution.

  2. Moreover, the concept of ‘net-zero’ is also misconducted in popular spaces where celebrities and famous figures evade action and avoid responsibility but rather create business opportunities over the concern.

  3. For the opportunity seekers, net-zero is nothing but a math equation, where emissions can be added in one place and subtracted from another. 


One of the reasons why the Net Zero approach is popular is because it is cheaper and doesn’t restrict the measures to curb emissions. Also, if a corporation fails to comply with mandatory emission targets, they are just charged a hefty fee. When the corporations pay a pitiful amount of money, they are automatically tagged as a ‘climate champion.’ It is not just bad for the environment, but it also shows the unjust situation of the economy. 


What needs to be done? 


Every entity needs to have an actionable and simple plan, with separate targets that serve the following purposes: 


  1. Reduction in the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels or operational activity.

  2. Progressive cut down emissions sourced from deforestation, reduced dairy/meat production, and destructive land usage.

  3. More contributions and support to right-based nature protection and restoration projects. 


Critical pain points of net zero 


Climate professionals look at the shortcomings of the carbon offsets projected by the net-zero seekers. The polluters can potentially avoid or delay the actual carbon emissions and instead fund other ways to reduce the emissions, which creates an insignificant immediate impact. 


Offsetting emissions are also not set in stone. They seem more like natural carbon sinks that have limited capacity. Corporations that promise to plant more trees can only do for a limited period. Moreover, it takes decades for the forests to become effective carbon stores. Forests are also prone to unpredictable damages like wildfires and draughts that release the carbon back into the air. It is also quite challenging to measure these expanding forests’ real-time progress or impact. 


The net-zero target needs all the sectors of the society – from government and business to local and indigenous people. They need to work just and equitably toward the common goal of solving the urgent crisis. 


The net-zero target is not a conclusive plan as these targets are not made legally binding, nor are strategies in an appropriate manner. No authorities do the math and regulate it, which leaves the work under individuals. 


Of course, reducing consumption is not the only way to reduce pollution; some net-zero projects also depend on far more advanced strategies. One of them involves the direct air compression technique to absorb atmospheric carbon. Although it’s currently mostly under construction, it may someday play a significant supporting role in efforts to remediate the legacy of greenhouse emissions. Additionally, significant logistical and cost challenges are associated with the current iterations of airflow capture.


Our only natural choice is to ensure we’re implementing all in our power to reduce our co2 emissions footprint right away and then to increase the carbon sink to deal with the things we can’t simply get rid of. Get as near to actual zero emissions as you can, in other words.

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