Net-Zero Is Our Responsibility

You may have heard of the 1.5°C target that the international community has agreed on. You may also have known the danger of climate disasters, which constantly hit a record high and may have felt that climate change has become a “climate crisis.”

The international community has realized the crisis of climate change and is making efforts for sustainable development by holding various international conferences to adopt conventions and by establishing organizations to implement the conventions. However, people doubt if governments and companies are making enough efforts to prevent the climate crisis.

We have already been warned of the climate crisis for decades. We know that carbon emissions are the biggest cause and that the international community has been making efforts to solve the problem for a long time. Nevertheless, why haven’t we overcome the predicted disasters until now?

Who Will Be Responsible for Carbon Emissions?

Humanity has made unprecedented developments over the past 100 years, and we are all enjoying the benefits. The world economy regarded endless growth as a truth of modern society, which encouraged more production and consumption. This resulted in a climate crisis that now threatens mankind.

The problem is that the climate crisis is closely related to human economic activity. Just as the human economy is complicatedly connected to each other, carbon emissions are related to the change in social structure. And it is necessary to discuss who will bear the responsibility and how much will they bear it in detail and put it into practice.

As a simple example, it is not only cars that emit carbon dioxide, but paved roads too have detrimental effects on climate change. In addition, due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, carbon emissions were reduced but Internet use grew by 40%, which ultimately demanded 42.6 million megawatt-hours of additional electricity.

As of November 15, 2022, the earth’s population exceeded 8 billion. Carbon emissions still hit a record high every year. The causes of carbon emissions are so diverse that they cannot be solved by fixing only one part.

Developing countries are increasingly using fossil fuels for economic growth and wealth accumulation, and developed countries are mostly converting to new and renewable energy, but they are still lacking. Even if a country reaches net-zero within its land, the country will import high-carbon products from other countries. So the international community has been discussing who will be responsible for carbon emissions and who will take a step back for reducing carbon emissions. The reason it feels like the international community is not active in taking action for reducing carbon emissions is because of such complicated relationships.

However, there is not much time left to fix society slowly enough for us to get used to the change. Every day, more serious and powerful disasters will come upon us.

Net-Zero Is Our Common Goal

The international community set a common goal in the Paris Agreement in 2015. It is to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. This is because if the temperature rises more than this, abnormal climate and climate disasters will be unbearable. Currently, Earth has already warmed by 1.2˚C, compared with the pre-industrial era, and prompt response is urgently required.

Each government has pledged to practice net-zero to achieve the goal of 1.5°C in Glasgow, England. This is not only for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also for offsetting the emitted amount of carbon dioxide through tree planting and carbon capture technology so that net emissions will be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero emission by 2050.

Net-zero is sometimes used with the term “carbon-neutral.” Although it is similar in concept, it is a bit different. The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 defined six main greenhouse gases as follows: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Carbon dioxide is the biggest cause of global warming, but other greenhouse gases too significantly affect temperature rise. Therefore, net-zero means achieving zero emission of all the six greenhouse gases. This includes a wider definition than carbon-neutral, which only deals with carbon dioxide.

The sooner net-zero is achieved, the more likely the worst climate crisis can be solved. Unfortunately, the current practice is not enough to keep 1.5°C. Individual practice in daily life is essential in reducing carbon emissions, but companies and governments too must implement decarbonization policies. Advanced countries must make every effort to convert to clean energy and restore the environment by using high technology, the best talents, and capital, and they must also support developing countries to achieve economic growth without using fossil fuels.

The World Resources Research Institute [WRI] suggested the following ten solutions to achieve net-zero: Phase out coal plants; invest in clean energy & efficiency; retrofit and decarbonize buildings; decarbonize cement, steel & plastics; shift to electric vehicles; increase public transport, biking, and walking; decarbonize aviation and shipping; halt deforestation & restore degraded lands; reduce food loss and waste and improve agricultural practices; eat more plants & less meat.

Now the key to the solution is that we should no longer disregard or pass our responsibility, but start to take action together. Modern society has developed based on fossil fuels, but we must not think that economic growth is proportional to carbon emissions. Decarbonization cannot be achieved without giving up conveniences and affluence to some extent. It also takes a lot of effort and capital. It may not be easy, but let us remember that sacrifice and concession are not a loss but the cheapest and most efficient investment for a sustainable future of mankind. Let’s not forget that we are all living together.