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The Net-Zero Strategy

CNA Insider

“Our earth is dying, yes, our earth, O - U - R, ours.”

~The German delegate

Cao Jingyu

09 June 2022

The United Nations Report on climate and environment (4 April 2022) has pointed out that humans are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahrenheit) limit that was agreed upon in Paris in 2015.

There is no time left. Immediate, effective actions must be taken by all countries to address the climate change crisis. However, some concerns have been raised on this issue, would climate actions result in a sacrifice of its domestic economy? If it does, how can countries cope with it?

Are countries on track to solve the climate change crisis ?

Many countries have been conservative or inefficient in their actions in combating climate change. According to the new report from the United Nation Environment Programme, the majority of the G20 countries failed to follow through on their commitment to slash their greenhouse emissions.

Climate Action Tracker has analysed that the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) pledges for 2030 are consistent with a global emissions' pathway that would lead to an average 2.4 °C rise in global temperature at the end of the century. This is far from fulfilling their commitment to the Paris Agreement, which is to limit warming to well below 2 °C and pursue the best efforts to keep it to 1.5 °C

Such backslide in the fight against climate change is a result of the increased frequency of global economic activities in 2017. Since most industrial activities involving the use of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases, the increased trade volume has fuelled the surge in production, which in turn results in greater greenhouse gas emission.

While many countries are reluctant to implement policies to target the immense industrial emission of greenhouse gases as it would comprise their economic growth, the fossil fuel industry still works against change.

Steps in the right direction

However, there is successful progress made by certain countries, which set targets to reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases. The UK, Norway, and France are examples of the countries that have committed to reaching net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

The United Kingdom government has unveiled its ambitious goal of zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. The UK Net Zero Strategy includes a comprehensive plan for the transition of the UK economy from the use of fossil fuels to clean energy.

The UK has also made efforts to incentivize industries to switch to more sustainable clean energy to reduce their heavy reliance on fossil fuels. The government provides financial support for such a transition.

As part of the strategy, the new investment includes but not is limited to implementing a £140 million Industrial and Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme to accelerate industrial carbon capture and hydrogen. It closes up the gap between industrial energy costs from gas and hydrogen, making clean and renewable energy more widely accessible.

“ Climate action does not necessarily require economic sacrifice.” Said the UK during his interview with the CNA reporter.

The net-zero strategy is undoubtedly effective in combating climate change, but the transition to a net-zero economy would meet many challenges, especially for less economically developed countries (LEDCs)

The Danger of the Net-Zero Concept

The net-zero strategy is undoubtedly effective in combating climate change, but the transition to a net-zero economy would meet many challenges, especially for less economically developed countries (LEDCs)

The transition is also exposed to many risks, such as the energy supply volatility, which may pose danger to the continuity of industrial production, hindering countries’ economic growth.

The short-term transitions in the energy market are hard to monitor and control. A disorderly transition could come with high economic costs, as well as a backlash that delays the transition.

Opportunities brought out by the net-zero strategy

The transition to a net-zero economy would effectively prevent an accumulation of greenhouse gases, hence would reduce the most catastrophic impacts of climate change from happening.

Markets that cater to low emissions products and services would be able to expand. For example, the take-up of electric cars jumps recently, indicating an ever booming electric car market.