Carbon Neutrality or Net Zero Emission Targets
Carbon neutrality or net-zero means to have a balance between carbon emission and carbon absorption from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. In simple words, carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits.
Currently, there are no artificial carbon sinks which can remove carbon from the atmosphere on a large scale. Natural carbon sinks, such as oceans, forests and soil, are able to remove carbon to an extent.
Carbon offsetting is another way to help reduce carbon emission. The way it works is to offset emission in one sector by reducing somewhere else, for example installing new renewable energy capacity, investing in low carbon technologies etc. Emission trading system (ETS), which is introduced by the EU is one of the examples of carbon offsetting system.
Many countries agreed to achieve carbon neutrality and set timeframes. So far, Bhutan and Suriname are the only two countries which achieved a negative carbon status.
In 2017, Sweden vowed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, which made it the first country to set a roadmap showing it ahead of the Paris Agreement deadline. It plans to cut down its emissions by 85% relative to 1990 levels and neutralise the remaining 15% by engaging in programs that lead to the elimination of pollution locally or abroad.
In 2019, the UK decided to cut down its net greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050. As part of its commitment, the country greenhouse emission has fallen by approximately 29% over the last ten years.
Following the UK, the French government also revealed its plans for climate change and set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. France also raised its 2030 goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption by 30% to 40%. It is highly dependent on nuclear power but now trying to shift towards renewable and plans to phase out coal-based power plants by 2022.
China, which is the biggest coal consumer, announced to cut its net carbon emission to zero within 40 years. It is one of the largest emitters of CO2, accounting for around 28% of global emissions. The Chinese government plans to reach its peak in CO2 emission before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. Carbon neutrality implies that China would be using alternative energy sources and seize or counterbalanced any remaining emission.
The Japanese government set a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050. The government aims to use more renewable energy, boost the research and technology, and consider changing the trends of coal usage whereas also searching for a way to achieve nuclear power more safely.
Similarly, South Korea also promised to carbon neutrality by 2050 to tackle climate change. The country is looking to replace coal power plants with renewable energy. Moreover, the South Korean government will invest $7.1 billion on green projects. It has started shutting down ageing coal power plants and plans to phase out nuclear power plants by 2060.
Carbon Tracker: Net-Zero Carbon Goal Goals by Country
Last updated: 24th November 2020.
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