Here’s why net zero emission is a pressing priority - Kalkine Media

June 26, 2021 01:01 AM AEST | By Team Kalkine Media
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Summary

  • Net-zero emission means removing all human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the atmosphere through the carbon removal process.
  • The last decade (2010-2019) proved to be the warmest on record, with the GHG emissions continuing to rise. 
  • Green shift is expected to boost job opportunities in diverse sectors.

Carbon neutrality is all the rage, with governments pledging to achieve net-zero emission while the climate movements triggered by the mounting ecological pressure mandate to achieve the goal before it is too late. 

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Over the past couple of years, small startups to multinational corporations have been proactively communicating their intention to reduce their net emissions to zero within the business in a bid to be on an equal footing with other industry leaders. 

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It brings us to the question, what are we exactly talking about when we say net-zero emission?

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Put simply, net zero-emission in the global context refers to removing all human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the atmosphere through the carbon removal process. Thus, the successful implementation is expected to reduce the net climate balance of the Earth. 

Why is immediate action needed?

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, countries agreed to limit global warming well below 2°C. Notably, the Earth is currently 1.1°C warmer when compared to what it was when the industrial revolution began. Moreover, 2010-2019 proved to be the warmest decade, with the GHG emissions continuing to rise. 

While the ecology has its own natural sink to reduce GHG gases, the current context of emission outpaces the naturally maintained absorption process. These natural sinks may include soil, which services as a carbon store, terrestrial biosphere absorbing carbon dioxide, and oceans soaking up GHGs through solubility and biological pumps.

ALSO READ: Australia needs to react to climate change- here’s why.

It calls for immediate human intervention, considering the fast-changing pace of the global ecological context. 

Reduction of human-caused emissions to zero

The preliminary and obvious action plan is to reduce GHG emissions to zero as soon as possible. It would involve changing industry and agricultural practices while shifting to electric vehicles and renewable energy sources that do not emit harmful pollutants. 

Balancing GHGs with equivalent amount of carbon removal

With GHGs already choking the atmosphere and preoccupying the natural sink’s capacity, simply cutting down on emissions may prove insufficient. Thus, the remaining pollutants must undergo an equivalent amount of carbon removal process by restoring forests or using technology to capture the pollutants. 

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Amped up government efforts

Many governments and businesses have already jumped on the bandwagon, undertaking measures to support green transition as part of their recovery strategies. These measures often include:

  • Government grants and tax reliefs for aiding research, infrastructure development and deployment of clean alternatives. 
  • Financial support to both individuals or businesses so they can make a shift to renewable or efficient energy installations.
  • Providing funding to generate jobs in the areas catering to green energy or cleaner technologies.
  • Conserving forest and ensuring ecosystem restoration.

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Getting zero emission does not mean busting the economy

The escalating pace of emissions has resulted from a vast shift in lifestyles and increased business activities, which together have played a pivotal role in boosting economies. Significantly, the modern channels of economic growth often directly or indirectly depend on activities that eventually result in greenhouse emissions. 

Be it intense market penetration of the travel sector or an upbeat pace of technological boom; the spin-off effect is evident mainly in terms of increased GHG concentration in a global context. However, the inverse relation might not hold meaning as reducing emissions might not prove detrimental to the economy. 

On the contrary, the green shift can create job opportunities, thereby giving the economic performance a leg up.  

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The opportunities outweigh the potential job losses

As per the International Labour Organization (ILO), the green shift can generate 24 million new jobs by 2030. It would be facilitated by integrating sustainable practices such as adopting electric vehicles, cleaner energy sources like the implementation of rooftop panels, and embracing all practices geared towards energy efficiency. 

The upbeat figure is much higher compared to an expected 6 million job losses that would result in areas such as coal mining, petroleum extraction and refining, and electricity generation from coal. 

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Moreover, environmental degradation can have an even more devasting impact on the job and working environment. The ILO predicts 72 million full-time job losses by 2030 if the emissions continue at the current pace. It is due to increased heat stress that can reduce workable hours, especially on field jobs or in the agriculture sector. 


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