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article imageThe growing list of countries with a net-zero carbon goal

By Karen Graham     Jul 27, 2019 in World
The 2015 Paris Agreement set a global goal to reach net-zero emissions in the second half of the century. While a number of strategies have been suggested, the one simple answer many countries have agreed upon is setting a net-zero emissions target.
With the climate crisis getting worse, the list of countries opting to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions as soon as economically possible is growing, according to Quartz.
Carbon dioxide or CO2 is a greenhouse gas that is natural and harmless in small quantities but as levels rise it can be dangerous to our health. Global atmospheric CO2 levels has risen from an average of 406.81 ppm in June 2016 to 413.93 ppm in June 2019. Many countries now realize that we need to stop putting more greenhouse gases into the air than we take out.
Nearly 16 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) is covered by net-zero emission targets set by countries, regions, and cities around the world, according to an Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) analysis.
The world is still seeing a net gain in coal production
The world is still seeing a net gain in coal production
According to its report titled, "Countdown to Zero: Plotting Progress Towards Delivering Net Zero Emissions by 2050," 15 countries have announced their intention to achieve this target.
What are net-zero emissions?
Net-zero emissions or carbon neutrality simply refers to balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal (often through carbon offsetting) or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether. And as ECIU notes in its report, net-zero is not automatically precisely defined as easy as it may sound.
For example, when net-zero is mentioned in a policy document or as a political commitment, the scope of the target is not always clear. However, when it's set in law, it has to be clear, for obvious reasons. In New Zealand, where climate change law is being discussed, GHG emissions take a different route because their biggest source of GHG is methane from cattle.
Chris Skidmore signs legislation to commit the UK to a legally binding target of net zero emissions ...
Chris Skidmore signs legislation to commit the UK to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.
UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) highlighted that to meet the net-zero goal, governments must collectively reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It sounds like a daunting task, but it is the single most important indicator of a country’s commitment to delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The ECIU report outlines the types of targets that can be set for net-zero emissions and assesses the ways in which net zero emission targets are expected to become more widespread in the coming years. At the present time, the UK is the largest economy with a legally-binding target to reach net-zero by 2050.
Countries with a net zero commitment by 2050
Countries with a net zero commitment by 2050
Most people will note the absence of the United States, Australia and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf from the list. However, the commitments of individual communities, counties, and states within these countries in setting net-zero targets is commendable.
They include California, New York, and Hawaii in the US; and New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland in Australia. At the city level, it includes New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Boston, Stockholm, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Austin, Melbourne, Helsinki, Manchester, Oslo, Nottingham, Adelaide, Bristol, Heidelberg, and Reykjavik.
More about paris agreement, netzero target, Global warming, Greenhouse Gas, ghg emissions
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