Business of Weather speaks to Professor Myles Allen about the feasibility of achivieng Net Zero – where the volume of greenhouse gases emitted is matched by their removal
Net zero is a state where the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is balanced by their removal.
Until we reach net zero, then climate change and global warming will continue – and so will the frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather events which threaten life, society and economic, financial and political stablity.
How big is the task ahead? In 2018, according to the magazine Nature, nearly 37 billion tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by human activities. This is equivalent to a cube of carbon dioxide measuring 27 km on each side. So, to achieve net zero, we must remove all of this CO2 – every year, just to stand still.
It is over 4 years since the world’s nations pledged to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels as part of the Paris climate accord. However, these commitments are not being met and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. As things stand, there’s little chance of limiting the rise to 2 degrees, while 3 degrees will be a major challenge.
Clearly, achieving net zero will require a huge effort, by people, by society, and by business. Most significanty, it will require a major change in the behaviour of the fossil fuel industry, which is the single largest contributor of atmospheric CO2 emissions.
Few people know more about what is required to achieve net zero than Dr. Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford and also a Coordinating Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees.
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