Net Zero by 2050
- Net Zero by 2050 is the new buzzword to stay on the right side of 1.50C. It means the world must emit progressively less and soak up progressively more carbon.
- Net Zero is an emerging slogan, with a lack of clarity on its meaning. Basically, the amount of carbon can remove from the atmosphere has to cancel out or exceed the amount of carbon we emit.
- The demands for net zero emissions gained momentum because of a headline-grabbing report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year-Global Warming of 1.50.The report said that for a 66 per cent chance of keeping warming under 1.50C, the globe could afford to emit 420 to 570 gigatonnes of carbon between 2018 and 2100. If emissions stayed at the 2018 levels of 37 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), the world would exhaust its carbon budget in 12 years.
- To avoid this doomsday scenario, the world should become a “net zero” carbon emitter latest by 2050 and then move to a carbon-negative trajectory-taking out more carbon each year from the atmosphere than it puts in-till 2100.
- The best known technological solutions are carbon capture and storage (CCS); bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS); and direct air capture and storage (DACS). Natural solutions come in the form of carbon “Sinks”, such as forests, land and oceans.
CCS-Carbon Capture and Storage for Net Zero
- CCS is a technology to capture waste carbon dioxide from large sources such as factories or fossil fuel power plants, and store it underground. IPCC sees a limited role for this technology. Its 1.50C report indicates that the electricity mix needs to be almost completely renewables by 2050. Even the CCS, coal power need to be completely phase out by the same year.
- Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide generated by large emissions sources (such as a factory or a powerful plant), transporting it to as storage site, and depositing it usually in an underground geological formation where it will not enter the atmosphere for thousands of years. The best-known varieties of CCS.
- DACS is a technology that captures carbon directly from the air, rather than capturing it from major sources such as power plants or factories. The technology consumes electricity to do this making it expensive. A demonstration project in Canada report a cost of $94-232 per tonne of CO2 equivalent last year. IPCC’s 1.50C report does not indicate a big role for DACS in the push towards net zero.
- Direct Air Carbon and Storage (DACCS) uses a chemical agent to bond with carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, and isolate it from the atmosphere. The link between the agent and CO2 is the broke, which allows the chemical agent to be recycled to capture more CO2. The chemical process is catalysed by electricity. DACCS is hence an electricity-intensive technology. Its potential to limit climate change depends on the source and cost of the electricity consumed.
- BECCS is a technology which combines bio-energy and CCS. Bio-energy is produced from the burning of waste from forests and agriculture, or from crops grown especially for the purpose. By itself, it is not an efficient way to produce energy. When combined with CCS, the joint effect of producing new energy while sequestering carbon makes BECCS a worthwhile economic preposition.
- IPCC considers BECCS an important technology to stay within1.50C, projecting that it would have to sequester up to 1 GtC02e each year by 2050 and up to 16 GtCo2 each year by 2100.
- There are three concerns with BECCS. One , in the best-case-scenario BECS will be able to sequester up to 5 GtCo2 per year in 2020, which will not be enough, state the IPCC 1.50 Second, BECCS could be environmentally damaging. In theory, it is supposed to rely on residues and waste from agriculture, forestry, industries and homes. In practice, the industry is currently under the scanner for covertly cutting down pristine forests instead of using waste food. The third concern is that IPCC largely presents BECCS as a post-2050 technology. yet, there is a risk that the potential of BECCS could become a convenient way for countries to delay immediate action on reducing emissions.
- Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) combines bio-energy production with carbon capture and storage. The conversion of biomass into bio-energy produces carbon-dioxide emissions, which are capture and stored.
- Bio energy is generally advocated as an efficient use of organic residue (biomass) from farming, husbandry and forestry. It is, however, not restricted to wastes. For example, crops like corn, palm oil and soybeans are sometimes grown purely as “ energy crops”. Depending on the biomass source, bio-energy may complement other land uses (for instances, agriculture), or may compete with them.
Natural Carbon Sinks
- Natural carbon sinks of the planet have some inherent capacity to sponge GHGS. This is most famously done by trees, which take in CO2 and convert it into biomass and organic matter. It is also some, to some extent, by the soils and the oceans. These are sites to natural carbon sequestration or “sinks”, effectively eh opposite of emissions sources. Such sinks make the zero emissions challenge a little easier. If the earth is doing part of our work for us we may not have to get to absolute zero, but net zero.
- The limit to carbon dioxide removal discussed above show that there is clear need to reduce emissions. The simple way to do this is for a country to shut down its own sources of emissions. however, there is an alternatives, albeit controversial, approach to this end carbon markets.
Carbon Markets Trade
- Carbon markets trade in carbon credits, which are created by assigning a dollar value to emissions reduced or avoided.
- Polluters buy carbon credits to offset their emissions; however, attempts such as the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme do not inspire confidence in carbon markets.
- Political and technical challenges have resulted in emissions reduction credits without emissions actually reducing.
- 2050 is the global deadline for net zero. That does not means every country can wait till 2050 to become net zero. Developed countries must naturally push towards it much earlier.