As climate 'net-zero' plans grow, so do concerns from scientists

As climate 'net-zero' plans grow, so do concerns from scientists
© PETER PARKS Scientists and monitoring groups are growing increasingly alarmed at the slew of vague net-zero pledges that appear to privilege offsets and future technological breakthroughs over short-term emissions cuts

Faced with the prospect that climate change will drive ever deadlier heat waves, rising seas and crop failures that will menace the global food system, countries, corporations and cities appear to have come up with a plan: net zero. 

The concept is simple: starting now, to ensure that by a certain date — usually 2050 — they absorb as much carbon dioxide as they emit, thereby achieving carbon neutrality. 

But scientists and monitoring groups are growing increasingly alarmed at the slew of vague net-zero pledges that appear to privilege offsets and future technological breakthroughs over short-term emissions cuts. 

“They’re not fit for purpose, any of them,” Myles Allen, director of Oxford Net Zero at the University of Oxford said of today’s carbon neutrality plans. 

“You can’t offset continued fossil fuel use by planting trees for very long. Nobody has even acknowledged that in their net-zero plans, even the really ambitious countries,” he told AFP.

Last month’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow saw major emitter India commit for the first time to work towards net-zero emissions, joining the likes of China, the United States and the European Union. 

According to Net Zero Tracker (NZT), 90 percent of global GDP is now covered by some sort of net-zero plan. But it said that the vast majority remain ill-defined. 

Take offsets. These are when countries or companies deploy measures — such as tree planting or direct CO2 capture — to compensate for the emissions they produce. NZT found that 91 percent of country targets, and 48 percent of public company targets, failed to even specify whether offsets feature in their net-zero plans.  

– Which emissions? –

What’s more, it found that less than a third (32 percent) of corporate net-zero targets cover what are known as “scope 3 emissions” — those from a company’s product, which normally account for the vast majority of carbon pollution from a given business. 

Alberto Carrillo Pineda, co-founder of Science Based Targets initiative, which helps companies align their net-zero plans with what science says is needed to avoid catastrophic heating, said most decarbonisation pledges “don’t make sense” without including scope 3 emissions. 

“From a climate point of view it matters, the companies are driving emissions not only through their operations but also through what they buy and sell,” he told AFP. 

“And that constitutes their business model. A company wouldn’t exist without their product and so their product needs considering from an emissions point of view.”

The UN climate change body, UNFCCC, analysed the latest national emissions cutting plans during COP26. 

It found that they would see emissions increase 13.7 percent by 2030, when they must fall by roughly half to keep the Paris Agreement warming limit of 1.5C within reach. 

Of the 74 countries that have published detailed net-zero plans, the UNFCCC found that their emissions would fall 70-79 percent by 2050 — a significant drop, but still not net zero. 

Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), said governments had started to use net-zero pledges as a way of delaying the immediate action the atmosphere needs. 

“From our perspective, that’s thoroughly irresponsible,” he said. 

“It is kicking the problem into the long grass and relying on speculative efforts in technology when we know that we can change behaviour right here and now and reduce emissions.” 

Last month UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said an independent group would be established to monitor companies’ net-zero progress. 

– ‘Rude awakening’ –

Many countries and businesses plan to deploy mass reforestation as part of net-zero plans. Experts say this is problematic for two reasons. 

The first is simple science: Earth’s plants and soil already absorb enormous amounts of manmade CO2 and there are signs that carbon sinks such as tropical forests are reaching saturation point. 

“The concern is that the biosphere is turning from a sink to a source by warming itself,” said Allen. 

“So relying on the biosphere to store fossil carbon is really daft when we may well need all the nature-based solutions we can find just to keep the carbon content of the biosphere stable.”

Teresa Anderson, senior policy director at ActionAid International, said relying on land-based carbon sequestration was “setting Earth up for a rude awakening”.

But the concept is also problematic from the perspective of human rights and fairness.

“When it comes to the competition for land to plant trees and bioenergy, that’s going to impact low-income communities, the ones that have done the least to cause the problem,” Anderson told AFP.

And because humans have already burned through most of the carbon budget — that is, how much total carbon pollution we can produce before 1.5C is breached — there simply isn’t time to delay. 

This year the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that since 1850, humans had emitted around 2400 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. That leaves just 460 billion tonnes left before 1.5C is breached — around 11 years at current emissions rates. 

Pineda said that while hundreds of companies have made net-zero pledges, “very few” have concrete long-term plans to decarbonise. 

“We need to be very sceptical of any target that doesn’t have clear milestones in terms of how the company is going to halve emissions by 2030,” he said. 

“Any net-zero target without a 2030 milestone is just unbelievable, basically.”

pg/klm/kjm 

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Mkhwebane to investigate new complaint that Ramaphosa breached ethics code over ‘CR17' funds

The ‘CR17’ presidential campaign has once again come under the scrutiny of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The office confirmed on Thursday that it is probing an alleged breach of ethics ... Read more »

Eskom needs R2.5 billion to fix Medupi power plant after explosion

© @chrisyelland/Twitter. An explosion ripped through Medupi Power Station’s Unit 3 Generator just before 11 pm on 8 August. JOHANNESBURG – Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the struggling government ... Read more »

Web-tracking 'cookies' meant to protect privacy: inventor

© – California-based engineer and entrepreneur Lou Montulli said the original ‘cookie’ he created decades ago was intended to make life online easier by letting websites remember visitors The data-tracking ... Read more »

Leeds United enter race to sign "dangerous" £34m-rated machine, Bielsa badly needs him - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Chelsea loanee Armando Broja in action for Southampton against Brentford in the Premier League Leeds United are the latest side to be linked with a ... Read more »

Reece James' fresh Chelsea injury update alludes to final Sergino Dest transfer decision

Reece James’ fresh injury boost has come at a good time for everyone at the club including Thomas Tuchel and as a result, a new wing-back signing may not be ... Read more »

Gilroy, McGrath, Rea and Jones sign one-year extensions with Ulster

© Morgan Treacy INPHO Ulster’s Marcus Rea in action against Northampton Saints. CRAIG GILROY, JACK McGrath, Marcus Rea and Greg Jones have all extended their contracts with Ulster by an ... Read more »

Did Your Gene Screen Turn Up Dangerous DNA? Study Finds Real Risk Is Low

© Provided by HealthDay THURSDAY, Jan. 27, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Most gene variants that have been labeled “pathogenic” may make only a small difference in a person’s risk of ... Read more »

Nach Zinsschreck des Fed: Schweizer Börse landet im Plus

Der Schweizer Aktienmarkt hat am Donnerstag fester geschlossen. Dabei blickten die Marktteilnehmer im Nachgang zu Fed-Sitzung auf eine veritable Achterbahnfahrt zurück. Denn gestartet waren die Dividendenpapiere tief im Minus. © ... Read more »

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg dodges questions after Hochul warns of ‘powers' to reverse policies

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg dodged questions Thursday about Gov. Kathy Hochul revealing she will be watching the controversial prosecutor “very closely.” “I’m on a call,” Bragg said Thursday morning ... Read more »

AOC swipes at Joe Manchin, saying he has 'a different demand' every day and is making it tough for Democrats to pass Biden's economic agenda

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York remains in her seat as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia stands and applauds as President Donald Trump delivers ... Read more »

Delhi Police issue traffic advisory for Beating Retreat ceremony. Check details

© Provided by Hindustan Times President’s Bodyguards rehearse during the Beating Retreat ceremony for the Republic Day Parade, at Vijay Chowk, in New Delhi. (ANI) The Delhi Police has made ... Read more »

Railways recruitment protest: Not just Oppn, NDA allies too extend support to students' Bihar Bandh

Railways job aspirants block tracks during their protest in Muzaffarpur. (Photo: PTI) A group of student organisations have called for a ‘Bihar Bandh’ on January 28 over alleged irregularities in ... Read more »

OPINION - Talking Point: Is a free bacon sandwich enough to convince you to return to the office?

© Shutterstock A can sandwich (Shutterstock) – Shutterstock The offer of a free bacon sandwich has been hung over commuters in an effort to entice people back to the office ... Read more »

Thursday evening UK news briefing: Boris Johnson calls Afghanistan animal evacuation claims 'total rhubarb'

© Provided by The Telegraph Your evening briefing from The Telegraph Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines Maida Vale stabbing | A driver arrested on suspicion of running over and killing ... Read more »

Harry Maguire explains how Man Utd stars are helping to improve Anthony Elanga

Harry Maguire has backed Manchester United’s youngsters to seize their chance to become established first-team stars. Anthony Elanga is the latest United academy prospect to make the first-team, joining the ... Read more »

Trigger Point's Adrian Lester backtracks after accidentally sharing major spoiler

Trigger Point actor Adrian Lester angered fans this week after tweeting a major spoiler of the first episode of the ITV show. The actor took to Twitter to respond to ... Read more »

BJP govt failed on all fronts in Himachal: HPCC chief Rathore

© Provided by Hindustan Times Congress state president Kuldeep Singh Rathore addressing media in Shimla on Thursday. (Deepak Sansta/Hindustan Times) Launching a stinging attack on the BJP-led state government, the Himachal ... Read more »

Your gas stove is always polluting, even when it's turned off

© Catherine Marois/Getty Images A new Stanford study points to more climate pollution coming from the gas stove than previously understood. When we fire up a gas stove, we’re releasing ... Read more »

Taylor to face Serrano in historic women's fight

© Getty Taylor and Amanda Serrano will meet at Madison Square Garden on April 30 Katie Taylor will defend her undisputed championship against Amanda Serrano on April 30 at Madison ... Read more »

Congress to Pick Punjab CM Face: Rahul May Bite the Bullet, But Will it Stop 'Friendly Fire' in Party?

© Provided by News18 Congress to Pick Punjab CM Face: Rahul May Bite the Bullet, But Will it Stop ‘Friendly Fire’ in Party? So finally the Congress is left with ... Read more »

Kwarteng: No U-Turn on National Insurance tax rise

© Getty Images There will be “no U-turn” on a planned National Insurance hike intended to fund health and social care, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said. The planned rise ... Read more »

The best soft ground football boots you can buy in 2022

All products featured on our site are independently chosen by us. When you purchase something through the links provided, we may earn a commission. If you’ve started 2022 with the ... Read more »

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces retirement

United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced on Thursday he will retire, giving President Joe Biden an opportunity to nominate an a new jurist to the nine-member high court ... Read more »

Xbox Series S discount: Game Pass powerhouse drops to lowest EVER price

© GETTY Xbox Series S console If you’re yet to take the plunge and order a next-gen console, then John Lewis might have just the deal to change your mind. ... Read more »

Uber, Canadian union reach deal to support gig worker benefits, flexibility

By Tina Bellon © Reuters/ANDREW KELLY FILE PHOTO: Uber Technologies logo (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday said it had reached an agreement with Canada’s largest services sector union ... Read more »

Biden commits to nominating nation's first Black female Supreme Court justice as he honors retiring Breyer

President Joe Biden committed to nominating the nation’s first Black female Supreme Court justice, as he honored retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at the White House on Thursday. © ... Read more »

Pune Covid caseload plateaued; will daily tally decline here on?

© Provided by Hindustan Times The district has for the past four days reported a daily Covid caseload lower than its peak of 16,459 on January 21. Since then, the ... Read more »

Omicron spread in India: Health Minister to review situation in 8 states, UTs on Friday

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will on Friday (January 28) review the Covid situation and the public health preparedness to tackle the Omicron ... Read more »

Hier können Sie die Spiele des FC Basel tippen

Beim Tippspiel «Bash die BaZ» können die gegen die Sportredaktion tippen und am Ende der Saison attraktive Preise gewinnen. © Bereitgestellt von Basler Zeitung Haben Sie mehr Ahnung von Fussball ... Read more »

Zoos continue Valentine's Day tradition of naming cockroaches after exes

The Bronx Zoo’s promotion for their Valentine’s Day package where you can name a hissing cockroach after your ex. Twitter/@BronxZoo Zoos throughout the country are continuing the Valentine’s Day tradition of naming animals ... Read more »

Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ruben Neves talks begin, Aubameyang ‘offers himself to Barcelona', Arthur Melo latest

ARSENAL have reportedly begun talks with Wolves over the signing of Ruben Neves. The Gunners are still reported to be keen on Juventus' Arthur Melo, but sources claim the Old ... Read more »

My baby was hit on the head twice at nursery – I left in tears and don't know if I want her to go back, says Kate Lawler

KATE Lawler has shared an emotional post after her daughter Noa was “hit twice on the head” at nursery – revealing she's unsure about sending her back. The 41-year-old posted ... Read more »

Where to catch Chimchar in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by GamePur Chimchar is one of the starting Pokémon you can select in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Pokémon Diamond, or Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. You can ... Read more »

How to get Merit Points in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by Dot Esports Not everything in the land of Hisui can be bought with the usual currency. Some items, including rare stones and consumables needed for Pokémon evolution, ... Read more »

Metroid Prime 4 job listing suggests we're not getting the game anytime soon

© Provided by GamePur Metroid fans have been waiting for a Prime 4 release date for what feels like ages, and it doesn’t look like the wait is getting any ... Read more »

What is the shiny rate in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by GamePur Finding and capturing Pokémon has been the primary gameplay aspect of any Pokémon game, and it’s no different in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. While your main focus ... Read more »

Home help workers to receive the €1,000 Covid bonus payment

© Shutterstock triocean THE €1,000 TAX-FREE bonus for frontline healthcare staff has been extended to include home help workers, the Minister for Public Expenditure confirmed. In response to a question ... Read more »

Barry Cryer was cheeky, kind and a canny engineer of comedy

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Paul Grover/Rex/Shutterstock The best work of Barry Cryer, who has died aged 86, was in two different ways unseen. He wrote jokes for generations ... Read more »

Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden and Limited Card list (February 2021)

© Provided by Dot Esports Just like with every competitive game, Konami has to put in additional work to make sure Yu-Gi-Oh! maintains a balanced competitive meta with the release ... Read more »

Killer who stabbed her partner during violent row is jailed for eight years

A woman convicted of killing her partner with a knife during a violent row at their home has been jailed for eight years. Kayley Mahood was cleared of murder, but ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic