Explained: Net Zero and India’s stand on it

Lately, in April 2021, the US conducted a virtual summit on climate change with 40 world leaders to take bold pledges and chalk out prominent decisions on climate change. The summit has committed to achieving the Net-Zero target by 2050.

What is the Net Zero target?

Net Zero also referred to as carbon-neutrality is that situation where the entire man-made greenhouse gas from the atmosphere has been removed.

The summit held in April decided to achieve a balance on the emission of greenhouse gases and the removal of the same from the atmosphere.
Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Germany have committed to attaining a net-zero future.
India is the third-largest emitter of carbon after the US and China. And India plays a major role in global climate actions.

We all know that there has been a continuous rise in greenhouse gas emissions from industries, transportation, and livestock, resulting in global warming and prominent changes in climate patterns.
These harmful gases trap the heat and don’t allow them to escape the earth, causing temperature rise. The continuous change in climate patterns are causing severe floods, droughts, cyclones, and whatnot thereby leading to mass destruction of lives and property.

“The global temperature rose a total of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius over about 5,000 years. In the past century alone, the temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees Celsius, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming” as observed by NASA World Observatory.
“Models predict that Earth will warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in the next century”.

If the global temperature rose at this pace, it would prove catastrophic. So in 2015, the 21st meeting of the United Nations Climate change conference took place to collectively agree to limit carbon emission by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

How to achieve Net Zero target?

Thus, the countries jointly agreed to become carbon-neutral or Net Zero carbon emitter by 2050. In achieving so the countries would have to balance their carbon emissions by removing the carbon from the atmosphere.

The countries have to develop renewable energy resources instead of burning fossil fuels, replacing fuel-based vehicles with electric vehicles, developing efficient technologies, etc. Also, the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors need to adopt net-zero targets.

Plants and water bodies are great carbon sinks as they absorb carbon from the air. Hence, expanding more forest cover would eliminate the carbon content from the atmosphere.
There are other technological techniques for containing atmospheric carbon.
Carbon sinks are a man-made reservoir where carbon-containing compounds are stored for an indefinite period for future usage, thereby decreasing the CO2 concentration from the atmosphere.

Measures adopted by countries:

Bhutan is the only country in the world that is “carbon negative” which means that it absorbs more carbon than it emits.
Countries like UK and France, have already enacted laws promising to achieve a net-zero emission by the middle of the century. China has promised to go net-zero by 2060.

India’s stand:

For India the scenario is different. India still has to reach the peak of emission, as for over next 2-3 decades the carbon emission would to grow because the country has to pull millions of people out of poverty.
Also, the carbon removal technologies are either unreliable or very expensive.
So, it’s not that India is straightaway striking out the carbon neutrality target by 2050, it’s that India at this point does not want to internationally announce any commitments.

Thus, the decision of attaining the Net Zero target is very arduous and challenging. The developed countries responsible for great carbon emission historically must take urgent steps and help developing nations with technology and capital to fulfill the cause.