The world as we know is heading towards a great
decline. The Utopia which we imagine, where the perfection and beauty of the
world, living as a single state is far from our reach. But according to the
report ‘Net-Zero by 2050’, by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to visualize
a future where net zero is a possibility by the year 2050, a steep decline in
the use of non-renewable energies is a must. The report states, yes! It is not
just a distant dream but net-zero is something that is within our reach by the
year 2050, but only if we make big changes to preserve and conserve our
What is Net Zero you might ask?
Greenhouse gases impact our environment, both in a good and a bad way. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect which traps heat inside our atmosphere, this keeps our planet in the comfortable temperature range and in a way makes our planet a sustainable box and ensures a sustainable life for us. Without the greenhouse effect, our Earth would be a barren, frozen, and lifeless piece of rock floating in the cosmos. Sunlight makes the earth habitable. While 30 percent of the solar energy that reaches our world is reflected in space, approximately 70 percent passes through the atmosphere to the earth’s surface, absorbed by the land, oceans, and atmosphere, and heats the planet. This heat is then radiated back up in the form of invisible infrared light. While some of this infrared light continues into space, the vast majority—indeed, some 90 percent—gets absorbed by atmospheric gases, known as greenhouse gases, and redirected back toward the earth, causing further warming.
The main gases responsible for the greenhouse effect include carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour (which all occur naturally), and fluorinated gases (which are
synthetic). Greenhouse gases have different chemical properties and are removed from the atmosphere,
over time, by different processes. Carbon dioxide, for example, is absorbed by so-called carbon
sinks such as plants, soil, and the ocean. Fluorinated gases are destroyed only by sunlight in the
far upper atmosphere.
Our (humans) unregulated burning up of fossil fuels for the generation of energy has provided a boost to the greenhouse gases mainly, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and Fluorinated Gases. This has further led to the trapping of these gases inside our atmosphere and leads to an increased greenhouse effect, increasing the temperature of the Earth and this phenomenon is called Global Warming.
As these greenhouse gases increase in the environment, the amount being produced and being expelled by the atmosphere has an imbalance that leads to global warming. When the balance between the number of greenhouse gases produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere is equal to zero then we reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. This equilibrium of the greenhouse gases in the environment is known as Net-Zero.
Net-zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out.
Reaching net-zero applies the same principle, requiring us to balance the number of greenhouse gases we emit with the amount we remove. When what we add is no more than what we take away we reach net zero. This state is also referred to as carbon neutral; However, zero emissions and zero carbon are slightly different, as they usually mean that no emissions were produced in the first place.
To achieve a future where net-zero is an achievable dream, many breakthroughs need to be accomplished in a synergetic way between the governments of the world, where every industry needs to work together in tandem. Getting to a net-zero future, IEA recommends that from the year 2021, no new non-renewable energy should be used as such to generate energy destructively. Such as coal, oil, and gas sources are gracefully eliminated as the only major source of production of energy. Getting a net-zero emission is detrimental to the survival of our environment and society.
By 2050, almost 90% of the electricity produced globally will need to come from renewable sources – with 70% from solar and wind.
Investments in sectors such as electricity, infrastructures, and the energy used by the consumers have to evolve to enter a sustainable cycle with the help of renewable energies such as solar, wind, and hydro. Business sustainability, sustainable lifestyles, and green products need to be adopted by businesses and consumers all the same for a future that involves a net-zero goal. Companies also need to adopt environmentally friendly practices to better improve the impact they have on the environment with a sustainable framework for the business and become heavily environmentally friendly.
Over the next decade, the biggest increase will be needed in electricity generation, with annual investment shooting from about $0.5 trillion over the past five years to $1.6 trillion in 2030. By then, annual investment in renewables will have just topped the highest amount ever spent on fossil fuels to reach $1.3 trillion. At the same time, global investment in fossil fuels will need to fall steadily.
We as consumers will also need to adapt and implement these changes in our lives and understand the impact that these changes will carry. The IEA report also mentions the fact that COVID-19 has increased the awareness of the general populace and how their behaviour impacts the environment and how it can help us reach the 2050 net-zero goal.
It is also speculated that governments will also have a big role to play where they might have to implement big changes in terms of policies to better enforce these means of slowing increasing the use of transport systems, private or public, that run on a renewable energy source.
Even though we might be able to achieve the above where every business is sustainable and environmentally friendly and uses green energy and every consumer is aware of the impact they carry and readily act in a way that preserves our environment, getting to net-zero by the year 2050 is still not possible with the major innovation in the clean energy sector.
The advances available today along with the technologies in the market will help us to reduce emissions and get to net-zero but the global use of these implementations and changes also need to be addressed as without a global deployment of these measures the dream of a net-zero 2050 will remain a dream.