‘Net zero’ is an important phrase in modern science and politics. Part of the wider effort to try to mitigate the effects of climate change, it covers a wide range of potential actions. From tree planters in the Amazon to solar panel installers in Portishead, everyone has a role to play; however, you will first need to understand net zero as a concept.
The definition of net zero
At its most basic, net zero is when we stop increasing the amount of greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide and methane – into the atmosphere. These are the gases that trap energy from the sun, which in turn causes the world to become hotter. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of burning gas, oil and coal as sources of fuel, whilst methane is mostly associated with agriculture and landfill.
Scientists say that we need to attain net zero by 2050 if we want to meet the goal, set in the Paris climate agreement of 2015, of keeping the global increase in temperature to no more than 1.5°C.
How to achieve net zero
The route to net zero is simple in theory but not so easy to achieve: we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Most of the large-scale changes will need to come through law, policy and investment by the government, such as banning petrol and diesel cars and expanding renewable energy projects.
Individuals can take smaller steps, such as changing how they travel to avoid flying or improving the energy efficiency of their homes. For example, solar panel installers Portishead can help you to switch from fossil fuels to sun power.
Some greenhouse gas emissions are unavoidable; however, they can be partially offset, such as through tree planting programs or the restoration of peatlands. Artificial and industrial methods of carbon capture exist but are expensive and inefficient.
Achieving net zero is a major goal for countries all around the world. Whilst it must mainly be driven by government action, there are a range of steps individuals can take to try to reduce their impact on climate change.