What is Net Zero Emissions?
Meaning of Net Zero Emissions: – Net Zero Emissions means that all man-made greenhouse gas emissions must be removed from the atmosphere through measures to reduce them, thus reducing the Earth’s net climate balance, followed by removal through natural and artificial sinks to zero. In this way the human race will be carbon neutral and the global temperature will be stable.
Achieving zero emissions means releasing no greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—that is, no carbon dioxide (CO2), no methane, no nitrous oxide or other greenhouse gases. Achieving net zero emissions means that some greenhouse gases are still released, but these are offset by removing an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing it permanently in soil, plants, or materials. Because it would be prohibitively expensive or disruptive to eliminate some sources of emissions entirely, achieving net-zero emissions is considered more feasible than achieving zero emissions at a nationwide scale.
Net zero Emissions basically refers to the balance between the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted and the quantity removed from the air. A country is said to have reached net zero carbon emission when the quantity of greenhouse gases it adds to the atmosphere is equal to the quantity it manages to remove from the air – cancelling each other out.
India’s road to zero carbon emissions will be long and challenging while it is not impossible, it will require a lot of strategic planning in the coming decades. The world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases stunned the world on Monday by setting a target for net zero carbon emissions – after years of rejecting calls for it.
Speaking at the COP26 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will aim for Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2070. Although this is the first time India has made such a pledge, it is still two decades ahead of the 2050 target set by the organizers of the climate summit.
What is United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It was signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, the sister convention to the Convention on Biodiversity, from 3rd to 14th June 1992. It established a Secretariat headquartered in Bonn and entered into force on 21 March 1994.
The UNFCCC has around 200 countries that are ‘Parties’ to the Convention. The Parties to the Convention meet every year (with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19) at the Conference of the Parties (COP). The UNFCCC meeting will be COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
The UNFCCC established agreements between the parties to act on climate change. The first agreement was the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding emissions reduction targets for 36 industrialized countries and the European Union. Overall, these targets bring an average of 5 percent emissions reduction over the five-year period of 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels.
Phase II ran from 2013 to 2020, with the parties committing to reducing GHG emissions by at least 18 percent below 1990 levels; However, fewer countries made commitments for this second phase. The United States was notably absent from both phases of the Kyoto Protocol.
The UNFCCC takes scientific guidance from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which submits its Assessment Report (AR) every five years, with AR6 in 2021/22. The IPCC produced a special report on Sustaining Global Temperature Rise to 1.5 degree Celsius in 2018, showing a significant difference between an increase of 1.5 degree Celsius and a rise of 2 degree Celsius and the dramatic risk of exceeding these two targets. It also recommended a global ‘net zero’ emissions target by 2050.
What is the Paris Climate Agreement?
Meaning of Paris Climate Agreement: – The 2015 United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris opened with the largest gathering of world leaders in history, and ended with the adoption of the Paris Agreement; a new global agreement on tackling climate change. The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
The Paris Agreement, which takes effect in 2020, is markedly different from the Kyoto Protocol in that it calls for action from all 195 signatory countries, not just industrialized countries.
The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2° C (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5° C (2.7° F), recognising that this would substantially reduce the impacts of climate change. Emissions should be reduced as soon as possible and reach net-zero by the middle of the 21st century.
The Paris Agreement, which takes effect in 2020, is markedly different from the Kyoto Protocol in that it calls for action from all 195 signatory countries, not just industrialized countries. In addition to mitigation (cutting greenhouse gas emissions), it also agrees on action on adaptation (response to the effects of climate change) and loss and damage (response to climate catastrophe); It also agrees that rich countries should provide finance and technology to help poor and vulnerable countries take action.
Why United Nations Framework Convention (COP26) is important?
COP26 is the biggest and most important climate-related conference on the planet. In this treaty, nations agreed to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system. Today, the treaty has 197 signatories.
During the conference, among other issues, delegates will be aiming to finalise the ‘Paris Rulebook’, or the rules needed to implement the Agreement. This time they will need to agree on common timeframes for the frequency of revision and monitoring of their climate commitments. Basically, Paris set the destination, limiting warming well below two degrees, (ideally 1.5) but Glasgow, is the last chance to make it a reality.
The official negotiations take place over two weeks. The first week includes technical negotiations by government officials, followed by high-level Ministerial and Heads of State meetings in the second week, when the final decisions will be made – or not.
There are four main points that will be discussed during the conference according to its host, the United Kingdom: –
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach: – To do this, countries need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curb deforestation, speed up the switch to greener economies. Carbon market mechanisms will be also part of the negotiations.
- Adapt more to protect communities and natural habitats: – Since the climate is already changing countries already affected by climate change need to protect and restore ecosystems, as well as build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure.
- Mobilise finance: – At COP15, rich nations promised to channel $100 billion a year to less-wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. That promise was not kept, and COP26 will be crucial to secure the funds, with the help of international financial institutions, as well as set new climate finance targets to be achieved by 2025.
- Work together to deliver: – This means establishing collaborations between governments, businesses and civil society, and of course, finalising the Paris Rulebook to make the Agreement fully operational. In addition to formal negotiations, COP26 is expected to establish new initiatives and coalitions for delivering climate action.
In the context of the recovery from the coronavirus and the global recession, the impact of climate change continues, and climate risks are increasing around the world.
Three components will make up a successful Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26): –
- What happens in the year before COP26 to advance climate ambition;
- How successful are the official talks at COP26, including high-level segments with heads of state and ministers from around the world; and
- What progressive coalitions and coalitions for action on climate change have emerged to successfully implement the Paris Agreement.
All parties to the Paris Agreement are requested to submit updated pledges (Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs) during 2020, setting tough targets to reduce emissions by 2030. How many governments do this during 2020 or before the summit in 2021 will be an important thing. Testing the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement.
In February 2021, the UNFCCC will prepare a synthesis report to assess whether sufficient progress is being made on increasing ambition in the NDC. So far, developing countries are coming forward with better NDCs, and the UK and EU are expected to present their advanced NDCs by December 2020.
2020 is also the year that wealthy nations are set to target $100bn per year in climate finance. The UNFCCC is expected to review whether this has been achieved prior to COP26.
Official Negotiations: –
Official talks take place in two weeks. The first week is mainly technical talks by government officials. The second week is dominated by high-level ministerial and heads of state meetings. The most challenging issues of negotiations go to the ministers for final negotiation decisions.
Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) has a number of technical issues to be finalized, including some hard sticking points that were carried over from COP26 in Madrid in 2019.
Issues that will be brought up at COP26 includes the following: –
- Carbon market mechanism, which allows countries to buy (reduction) carbon credits from another country to allow the purchasing country to continue to emit emissions within its borders. Carbon markets may also include trading in ‘negative’ emissions, such as carbon absorption through forestry. The parties have very diverse views on the limits and rules of these markets.
- While loss and damage is a core part of the Paris Agreement, there is as yet no mechanism within the UNFCCC to deal with losses and damages suffered by vulnerable countries. This is seen by the LDC as a key factor in unlocking the talks but is opposed by many wealthy countries.
- The delivery of the $100 billion finance target is likely to be discussed, and will again be an important factor for less developed countries. Additionally, COP26 is likely to set the next target for climate finance to be achieved by 2025.
- An important aspect of the climate debate is around ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS). Thus nature (forests, agriculture and ecosystems) can become a climate solution to absorb carbon and protect against climate impacts. COP26 will begin to discuss how to integrate NBS into the Paris implementation strategy.
- The other element of the ‘Paris rulebook’, which requires agreement, is on the common timeframes for NDCs of countries – whether those timeframes should be five years or ten years. Shorter time-frames mean more frequent revision of NDCs, potentially fuelling greater ambition, if only they were revised every decade.
Can India achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070?
India’s road to net zero carbon emissions will be long and challenging while it is not impossible, it will require a lot of strategic planning in the coming decades. The world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases stunned the world on Monday by setting a target for net zero carbon emissions – after years of rejecting calls for it.
Speaking at the COP26 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will aim for net zero emissions by 2070. Although this is the first time India has made such a pledge, it is still two decades ahead of the 2050 target set by the organizers of the climate summit.
Net zero emissions refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced through natural means or using still-nascent carbon capture technology and greenhouse gas emissions removed from the atmosphere.
Ulka Kelkar, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, India, told CNBC: “I was surprised because there is a lot of heated debate on net zero carbon emissions in India”. India is still largely dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and coal and its economic priorities are mostly focused on domestic issues. The country’s energy demand is expected to increase rapidly over the next decade as the economy continues on its growth trajectory.
Kelkar said he believes India’s 2070 target of net zero emissions, along with other 2030 targets announced by Modi, is “very achievable”.
Targets announced by PM Modi, 5 goals at COP26 Climate Summit: –
- India will bring its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030;
- India will fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirement through renewable energy by 2030;
- India will cut down its net projected carbon emission by 1 billion ton from now until 2030;
- India will bring down carbon intensity of its economy by more than 45 per cent, by 2030;
- India will achieve its zero-net carbon emissions target by 2070.
Kelkar said over email, the pledges will give policy certainty to the industry to invest in decarbonization technologies, and inspire India’s states and cities to set their own net-zero paths to growth.
PM Narendra Modi’s commitments at COP26 summit on climate change
The announcement, made at the UN-led COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, will push the developed world to enhance climate finance for the 2021-2030 period.
The Indian PM also made it clear that rich countries will have to provide $1 trillion in climate finance to the developing world to achieve its climate change mitigation targets, while speaking out in support of vulnerable island nations that are in the danger of submerging because of rising sea levels.
India is No. 4 in the world when it comes to installed renewable energy capacity, and its non-fossil fuel energy has increased by more than 25% in the last seven years, reaching 40 % of country’s energy mix this year. However, India will continue to grow on fossil fuels for another 20 years, and only after that, its emissions will start to fall, show various studies done on the country’s energy basket.
India’s five-point climate action plan, which PM Narendra Modi described as “panchamrit (five values)”, is set to give a firm push to India’s plans for increasing renewable energy, and switching to electricity and hydrogen fuels for transport.
- Net Zero Emissions by 2070
The Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said solar electricity generation will have to go up to 5,630 GW by 2070, while the wind energy will be second biggest contributor by providing 1,792 GW by 2070.
To achieve net zero emissions, the share of electric cars and the contribution of biofuels for heavier vehicles will have to reach 84% by 2070, the CEEW said, adding that the majority section of industry will have to shift to cleaner biofuels or hydrogen. As of 2019, India installed a capacity to generate about 134 GW of clean energy from solar, wind and nuclear sources, the Centre for Science and Environment said.
There is unanimity among energy experts that India’s dependence on coal will have to be cut down drastically in the next 10-15 years to achieve its net zero target, and the country will have to swiftly switch to cleaner fuels.
With India aiming to cover one-third of its geographical area with trees and forest cover, the country’s carbon reducing capacity will go up considerably. Forests can absorb up to 20% of carbon emissions, according to an environment ministry study conducted in 2011 when India’s green cover was about 24% of the its geographical area. With the green cover increasing, the country’s carbon sequestration ability will also improve.
- 500 GW of Non-Fossil Fuels by 2030
In an analysis for the 500 GW target, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has done a projection for the country’s energy mix for 2030 that shows it will need to have solar energy installed capacity of 280GW and wind energy installed capacity of 140GW. The rest of the energy needs will come from nuclear.
This would mean India will produce half of its energy requirements from renewables, which PM Narendra Modi promised at the COP26 summit. According to the CEA, India’s total installed electricity capacity will be 1,100 GW by 2030. The CSE said that target is achievable if India stops investing in coal.
- Cutting Carbon Emissions by 1 billion Tonnes
According to the business-as-usual scenario, India’s projected carbon emissions by 2030 will be 4.48 billion tonnes, almost double its present emissions, according to the CSE. This would mean a 22% reduction in carbon emissions. India’s projected emissions in 2030 would be 3.48 billion tonnes, just 9% of the remaining carbon budget of 400 billion tonnes.
Of the total global emissions, India’s share will be a relatively small 8.4%, while China and the US will continue to be two biggest carbon emitters, the CSE said.
In per capita terms, it would mean India will have emitted 2.98 tonnes of CO2 in a business-as-usual scenario, and going by this target, it will be 2.31 tonnes per capita, less than that of any industrialised country in the world including China.
As of today, India’s per capita emissions is 1.98 tonnes of CO2 . If you compare this to the world, the US per capita emissions will be 9.42 tonnes in 2030, EU 4.12 tonnes in 2030, India’s will be 2.7 tonnes in 2030 and China’s will be 8.88 tonnes per capita.
- Reducing Carbon Intensity by 45%
Achieving 45% won’t be difficult considering India would be meeting half of its energy demand from cleaner technologies by 2030, and there is a broad hydrogen road map for the country to adopt over the next 10 years.
India has taken measures to reduce emissions from the transport sector, and the energy intensive industrial sector – especially cement, iron and steel, non-metallic minerals and chemical, which contribute about 30% of the total emissions.
In the coming years, India will have to make the measures stringent and force industries to comply with them, Ahluwalia said in his paper. The CEEW said that India will have to reinvent its mobility systems to move people and goods in a more efficient manner.
“India can significantly reduce its carbon intensity by giving incentives to adopt hydrogen as fuel for new industries and for non-peak hours,” said Chandra Bhushan, CEO of I-Forest.
- Climate Finance
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate finance as money from government, private and alternate sources of financing. Climate finance is needed for mitigation because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions.
Modi categorically said the developing world expects developed countries to provide climate finance of $1 trillion at the earliest to meet net zero targets and adopt a cleaner growth trajectory.
Till end of 2020, the rich countries were able to provide $80 billion dollars of climate finance. In 2009, developed countries pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the impact of climate change.
What is the greenhouse effect?
Meaning of Greenhouse Effect: – The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat. This process makes Earth much warmer than it would be without an atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is one of the things that makes Earth a comfortable place to live.
The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere.
Radiatively active gases (i.e., greenhouse gases) in a planet’s atmosphere radiate energy in all directions. Part of this radiation is directed towards the surface, thus warming it. Similarly, aerosols have radiatively active effects. The intensity of downward radiation – that is, the strength of the greenhouse effect depends on the amount of greenhouse gases and aerosols that the atmosphere contains. The temperature rises until the intensity of upward radiation from the surface, thus cooling it, balances the downward energy flow.
Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical for supporting life and initially was a precursor to life moving out of the ocean onto land. Human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels and clearcutting of forests, have increased the greenhouse effect and caused global warming.
Human activities are changing Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil puts more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. It is observed that increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and some other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Too much of these greenhouse gases can cause Earth’s atmosphere to trap more and more heat. This causes Earth to warm up.
Which gases cause the greenhouse effect?
The contribution that a greenhouse gas makes to the greenhouse effect depends on how much heat it absorbs, how much it re-radiates and how much of it is in the atmosphere. Earth’s greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet.
The main gases that contribute most to the Earth’s greenhouse effect are: –
- Water Vapour (H2O): – The most abundant greenhouse gas overall, water vapor differs from other greenhouse gases in that changes in its atmospheric concentrations are linked not to human activities directly, but rather to the warming that results from the other greenhouse gases we emit. Warmer air holds more water. And since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, more water absorbs more heat, inducing even greater warming and perpetuating a positive feedback loop.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2): – Accounting for about 76 percent of global human-caused emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2) sticks around for quite a while. Once it’s emitted into the atmosphere, 40 percent still remains after 100 years, 20 percent after 1,000 years, and 10 percent as long as 10,000 years later.
- Nitrous Oxide (N2O): – Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas. It has a GWP 300 times that of carbon dioxide on a 100-year time scale, and it remains in the atmosphere, on average, a little more than a century. It accounts for about 6 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
- Methane (CH4): – Although methane (CH4) persists in the atmosphere for far less time than carbon dioxide (about a decade), it is much more potent in terms of the greenhouse effect. In fact, pound for pound, its global warming impact is 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Globally it accounts for approximately 16 percent of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fluorinated Gases: – Emitted from a variety of manufacturing and industrial processes, fluorinated gases are man-made. There are four main categories: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). Although fluorinated gases are emitted in smaller quantities than other greenhouse gases (they account for just 2 percent of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions), they trap substantially more heat. Indeed, the GWP for these gases can be in the thousands to tens of thousands, and they have long atmospheric lifetimes, in some cases lasting tens of thousands of years.
- Ozone (O3): – Ozone, unlike the other criteria pollutants, is not emitted directly into the air by any one source. Ground-level ozone is a secondary pollutant. It is formed through chemical reactions of other molecules already in the air, specifically nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ground-level ozone, which exists in the atmosphere close to earth, is not the same as the “ozone layer” in the earth’s outer atmosphere (the stratosphere), where ozone helps to absorb ultraviolet radiation that would otherwise be harmful to organisms on Earth’s surface. Sources of the NOx and VOCs that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone include vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents, refuelling stations, factories, and other activities that result in the burning of fossil fuels.
In terms of the amount of heat these gases can absorb and re-radiate (known as their global warming potential or GWP), CH4 is 23 times more effective and N2O is 296 times more effective than CO2. However, there is much more CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere than there is CH4 or N2O.
Not all the greenhouse gas that we emit to the atmosphere remains there indefinitely. For example, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the amount of CO2 dissolved in surface waters of the oceans stay in equilibrium, because the air and water mix well at the sea surface. When we add more CO2 to the atmosphere, a proportion of it dissolves into the oceans.
What are the sources of greenhouse gases?
The Primary Sources of Greenhouse Gases are as follows: –
- Burning Fossil Fuels: – Carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at any time in the last 750, 000 years. The burning of fossil fuels has elevated CO2 levels from an atmospheric concentration of approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial times to over 400 ppm in 2018. This is a 40 per cent increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution. CO2 concentrations are increasing at a rate of about 2–3 ppm/year and are expected to exceed 900 ppm by the end of the 21st century.
- Cement Manufacture: – Cement manufacture contributes Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere when calcium carbonate is heated, producing lime and CO2. Estimates vary, but it is widely accepted that the cement industry produces between five and eight per cent of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, of which 50 per cent is produced from the chemical process itself and 40 per cent from burning fuel to power that process. The amount of CO2 emitted by the cement industry is more than 900 kg of CO2 for every 1000 kg of cement produced.
- Transportation (29 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation come primarily from burning fossil fuels for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, planes, etc. More than 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum-based, consisting primarily of gasoline and diesel. Carbon dioxide is the primary gas emitted, though fuel combustion also releases small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, and vehicle air conditioning and refrigerated transport release fluorinated gases too.
- Electricity Generation (25 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – Electricity generation generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. About 62 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, with carbon dioxide the primary gas released (along with small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide), mainly from coal combustion.
- Industry (23 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions needed to produce goods from raw materials it happens.
- Commercial and Residential (13 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and homes primarily result from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products containing greenhouse gases, and waste management. Operating buildings around the world generates 6.4 percent of global greenhouse gases. These emissions, made up mostly of carbon dioxide and methane, stem primarily from burning natural gas and oil for heating and cooking, though other sources include managing waste and wastewater and leaking refrigerants from air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.
- Agriculture (10 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – Trees, plants, and soil absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The plants and trees do it via photosynthesis (a process by which they turn carbon dioxide into glucose); the soil houses microbes that carbon binds to. So non-agricultural land-use changes such as deforestation, reforestation (replanting in existing forested areas), and afforestation (creating new forested areas) can either increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere (as in the case of deforestation) or decrease it via absorption, removing more carbon dioxide from the air than they emit. (When trees or plants are cut down, they no longer absorb carbon dioxide, and when they are burned or decompose, they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.) Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soil and rice production.
- Land Use and Forestry (12 Percent of 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions): – Land areas can act as a sink (absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere) or a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands are a net sink, that is, they have absorbed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emitted.
- Aerosols: – Aerosols are small particles suspended in the atmosphere that can be produced when we burn fossil fuels. Other anthropogenic sources of aerosols include pollution from cars and factories, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigeration systems and CFCs and halons used in fire suppression systems and manufacturing processes. Aerosols can also be produced naturally from a number of natural processes e.g., forest fires, volcanoes and isoprene emitted from plants. We know that greenhouse gases provide a warming effect to Earth’s surface, but aerosol pollution in the atmosphere can counteract this warming effect. For example, sulphate aerosols from fossil fuel combustion exert a cooling influence by reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth.
What are the adverse effects of greenhouse gases?
Scientists are highly confident that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, primarily due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, has forecast a temperature increase of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.
Some of the long-term adverse effects of Greenhouse Gases are as follows: –
- Global Temperatures Will Continue to Rise: – Many experts predict that Earth’s surface temperature will rise by at least 1 degree Fahrenheit, possibly much more, by the end of this century. Global temperatures will continue to rise until growth is driven by a decline in greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the industry and agriculture sectors.
- More Droughts and Heat Waves: – In the new IPCC report, the world’s leading climate experts pointed out that unless “drastic” cuts to emissions are made, extreme weather will become more common. Heat waves have happened in the past, but climate change is making heat waves longer, more extreme and more frequent. By comparing different scenarios, scientists can tell that global warming is making heat waves worse. Severe heat waves are expected to increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths.
- Hurricanes Will Become Stronger and More Intense: – Researchers say that climate change gives storms more energy, which keeps them powering on land. The scientists involved say it will cause more damage to the storm in years to come.
- Sea Level Will Rise 1-8 feet by 2100: – Global Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches since reliable record-keeping began in 1880. It is projected to grow by 1 to 8 feet by 2100. This is the result of additional water from the melting of land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Over the next several decades, storm surges and high tides may combine with sea level rise and land degradation to further increase flooding in many areas. Sea level rise will continue after 2100 because the oceans take too long to respond to warmer conditions on Earth’s surface.
- Arctic Likely to Become Ice-Free: – A new study finds that just 15 years from now, the Arctic Ocean may be functionally free of ice for some part of the year. The Arctic will see an ice-free period every year in early 2035 due to high rise in global temperature.
- Depletion of Ozone Layer: – The depletion of the ozone layer results in the entry of the harmful UV rays to the earth’s surface that might lead to skin cancer and can also change the climate drastically. Global warming of the lower atmosphere may trigger major ozone destruction that has added a dangerous new dimension to the climate change landscape (Nature, Volume 360 No. 6401). British scientists John Austin of the Office of Meteorology, Neil Butcher of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Keith Shine of the University of Reading calculated that by the middle of the 21st century, when carbon dioxide levels are expected to double, almost all of the ozone The lower stratosphere above the Arctic would be destroyed.
- Smog and Air Pollution: – Smog is formed by the combination of smoke and fog. It can be caused both by natural means and man-made activities. In general, smog is generally formed by the accumulation of more greenhouse gases including nitrogen and sulfur oxides. The major contributors to the formation of smog are the automobile and industrial emissions, agricultural fires, natural forest fires and the reaction of these chemicals among themselves.
- Acidification of Water Bodies: – Increase in the total amount of greenhouse gases in the air has turned most of the world’s water bodies acidic. The greenhouse gases mix with the rainwater and fall as acid rain. This leads to the acidification of water bodies. Also, the rainwater carries the contaminants along with it and falls into the river, streams and lakes thereby causing their acidification.
What are the causes for rising of Global Warming?
Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the planet’s temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and farming.
The main causes for rising of Global Warming are as follows: –
- Burning of Fossil Fuels: – Fossil fuels are an important part of our lives. They are widely used in transportation and to produce electricity. Burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide. With the increase in population, the utilization of fossil fuels has increased. This has led to an increase in the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Burning coal, oil and gas produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
- Deforestation: – Trees help control the climate by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Due to the cutting of trees, there is a considerable increase in the greenhouse gases which increases the earth’s temperature. When they are cut down, that beneficial effect is lost and the carbon stored in trees is released into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
- Oil and Gas: – Oil and Gas is used all the time in almost every industry. It is used the most in vehicles, buildings, production and to produce electricity. When we burn coal, oil and gases it largely adds to the climate problem. The use of fossil fuels is also a threat to wildlife and the surrounding environments, because of the toxicity it kills off plant life and leaves areas uninhabitable.
- Fertilizer: – The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers increases the amount of heat for the crop. Nitrogen oxides can trap 300 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Sixty-two percent of the nitrous oxide released comes from agricultural by-products.
- Power Plants: – Power plants burn fossil fuels to operate, due to this they produce a variety of different pollutants. The pollution they produce not only ends up in the atmosphere but also in the water ways, this largely contributes to global warming. Burning coal which is used in power plants is responsible for around 46% of total carbon emissions.
- Oil Drilling: – Burning from the oil drilling industry has an impact on the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The recovery, processing and distribution of fossil fuels accounts for about eight percent of carbon dioxide and thirty percent of methane pollution.
- Natural Gas Drilling: – Known as a clean fuel source, natural gas drilling causes massive air pollution in states such as Wyoming; Hydraulic fracturing techniques used to extract natural gas from shale deposits also pollute groundwater sources.
- Waste: – As waste breaks down in landfills, it releases methane and nitrous oxide gases. About eighteen percent of the methane gas in the atmosphere comes from waste disposal and treatment. Humans create more waste now than ever before, because of the amount of packaging used and the short life cycle of products. A lot of items, waste and packaging isn’t recyclable, which means it ends up in landfills. When the waste in landfills begins to decompose/break down it releases harmful gases into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming.
- Volcanic Eruptions: – Volcanoes release large amounts of carbon dioxide when they erupt. Volcanoes have an overall small effect on global warming and an eruption causes short-term global cooling as the ash in the air reflects a greater amount of solar energy.
- Farming: – Farming takes up a lot of green space meaning local environments can be destroyed to create space for farming. These animals produce a lot of greenhouse gases for example methane, as well as this they also produce an extreme amount of waste. Factory farming is responsible for even more climate issues because of the extra pollution it produces and the more animals it can hold.
Why ‘Net Zero Emissions’ is necessary?
Technologies exist in many sectors of the economy that can bring emissions down to zero. In electricity, this can be done using renewable and nuclear generation. A transportation system that runs on electricity or hydrogen, well-insulated homes and industrial processes based on electricity instead of gas could all help bring regional emissions down to absolute zero.
However, technological options are limited in industries such as aviation; Even in agriculture, it is highly unlikely that emissions will be brought down to zero. So, some emissions from these areas will likely remain; And to offset these, a similar amount of CO2 would need to be pulled out of the atmosphere – negative emissions. Thus, the target becomes ‘net zero’ for the economy as a whole. The term ‘carbon neutrality’ is also used.
Sometimes the total zero target is expressed in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, sometimes simply as CO2. The UK Climate Change Act now states its net zero emissions target by 2050 in terms of greenhouse gases overall.
What are the possible ways to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050?
The possible ways to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050 areas follows: –
- An End to Waste: –
- Policy makers have put reduction in unnecessary consumption at the top of their agenda. That’s where our analysts believe. Cutting down on energy demand, keeping raw materials in use longer, puts a premium on efficiency. And there is much that can be done in this area on behalf of governments, companies, investors and consumers.
- For example, capital goods manufacturers can make large profits by using software that predicts performance through the life of a piece of equipment. Developers and operators of office buildings – the largest consumers of energy in the commercial real estate sector could be re-ready for a post-Covid world, reducing the need for heating, lighting and refrigeration.
- Meanwhile, in “fast fashion”, about 80% of clothing ends up in landfills or burns. That industry is a clear target for greater use of recycling.
- Generate Electricity without Emissions: –
- Using sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, and water power combined with advances in electricity storage can provide much of the nation’s electricity with minimal CO2 emissions.
- Other low-carbon energy sources can be used alongside these power sources to make sure electricity is always available.
- Bioenergy to the Fore Once More: –
- The focus is shifting from the “food versus fuel” dilemma, under which crop-based biofuels were linked to rising food prices, deforestation and land conflicts.
- There is now a new generation of biofuels that can be made from non-edible crops and oils, and from agricultural and municipal waste. Our analysts predict that bioliquids will account for 20% of the demand for liquids by 2050, while bio-gas will account for 5% of the gas market.
- Greater Use of Hydrogen: –
- Hydrogen is light and storable and produces no direct CO2 emissions when converted into energy. So, society needs to make more use of it and why governments should continue to provide incentives to do so.
- Today, most of the demand comes from the refining industry, for hydrocarbons and desulfurization, and from chemical companies, for the production of ammonia.
- Carbon Sequestration: –
- Governments, companies and consumers are committed to moving to a low-carbon world. But even after major changes, there will be areas and sectors where net zero is not possible – either from a technology or cost perspective.
- More efficient technologies and processes that reduce energy use can also reduce emissions significantly. Switching to electric equipment often improves efficiency. Also, “smart” technologies, which sense when energy is needed and when it is not, can help to optimize how electricity is generated and used, helping minimize waste.
- According to our analysts’ estimates, CO2 removal would require approximately 20 gigatons per year, either through direct capture or other offsets such as nature-based solutions.
- Absorb Carbon Dioxide from the Climate: –
- The only greenhouse gas that can be easily absorbed from the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. There are two basic approaches to extracting this: by stimulating nature to absorb more, and by creating technology that works.
- To offset emissions that are too costly or difficult to avoid, it is necessary to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it permanently. This can be done with technologies that directly capture CO2 from the air and trap it so it cannot re-enter the atmosphere. Plants and soils already remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and certain land management practices can increase their capacity to absorb and store carbon.
- Plants absorb CO2 through photosynthesis as they grow. Therefore, all other things being equal, more plants growing, or plants growing faster, will be more distant from the atmosphere. Two of the easiest and most effective methods for negative emissions are afforestation – planting more forests – and reforestation – replacing forests that have been lost or thinned. Technical options include Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Capture.
- Material Efficiency, Longevity, and Re-Use: –
- A large share of industrial emissions are associated with creating materials used in products, buildings, and infrastructure, such as concrete and steel. Smart design and precise use of material (enabled by technologies such as automation and 3D printing) can produce products delivering equal or better services while requiring less material.
- Improved designs and materials can also lengthen the useful lifetime of buildings or products, so they don’t have to be replaced as often. Buildings and products can also be designed to facilitate re-use by a new owner, and approaches such as vehicle sharing may enable fewer vehicles to provide mobility services for more people.
- Replace Fluorinated Gases: –
- Fluorinated gases (F-gases) used as refrigerants, propellants, and electrical insulators can be replaced with more climate-friendly alternatives serving the same functions, such as propane, ammonia, isobutane, and various synthetic chemicals.
- The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty that phased out the use of refrigerants that damage the ozone layer in the 1990s-2000s, has now been extended to similarly phase out F-gases that harm the climate.
- Methane Capture and Destruction: –
- Methane is the main component of natural gas, with a heat-trapping ability 28 times that of CO2 per molecule over a 100-year timescale. Leaks from natural gas wellheads, pipelines, and equipment were responsible for 31% of U.S. methane emissions in 2015 while and coal mining was responsible for another 9%.
- Better monitoring and prompt repair of natural gas leaks and systems to destroy methane leaking from coal mines (or phasing out coal mining) can help reduce these emissions.
Who is moving to net zero emissions target?
Many countries have set targets, or are committed to, to reach net zero emissions on a time-frame consistent with the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. These include the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica (2050), Sweden (2045), Iceland, Austria (2040) and Finland (2035). The small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the most forested country on Earth, Suriname, are already carbon-negative – they absorb more CO2 than they emit.
Many governments and businesses have set a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The U.S. currently produces 6 Gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions is measured in terms of CO2-equivalent, which is the amount of CO2 that would have an equivalent global warming impact as a different greenhouse gas (for example, methane or nitrous oxide). To achieve net-zero emissions across the entire United States would require reducing net emissions by an average of 0.2 Gigatons of CO2-equivalent per year over the next 30 years. If the United States were to achieve this goal, it would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 10%.
In addition, the European Union has recently agreed in its European climate legislation to ensure its political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050.
The principle that rich countries should take the lead in climate change is rooted in the United Nations Climate Conference that dates back to 1992, and was ratified in the Paris Agreement. So, if science says ‘global net zero emissions by mid-century’, there is a strong moral case for developed countries to adopt an earlier date.
So far, the UK, France, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have set their net zero targets in national legislation. Other countries, including Spain, Chile and Fiji, are looking to do the same.
In the UK
Soon after the IPCC published its special report on 1.5°C in October 2018, the governments of the UK, Scotland and Wales asked their official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), to advise on UK and developed administrations. Term target for greenhouse gas emissions.
The CCC previously indicated that the UK should aim for net zero emissions by 2045-2050 to be compatible with the 1.5º C Paris Agreement target.
The CCC gave its advice in May 2019. Its recommendations were: –
- For the UK, a new target: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050 (up from the current emissions reduction target of 80% from 1990 levels by 2050);
- For Scotland, a net-zero dates of 2045, reflects a greater relative ability of Scotland to remove emissions than the UK as a whole;
- For Wales, a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, indicating ‘less opportunities for CO2 storage and relatively high agricultural emissions that are difficult to reduce’.