Carbon Neutral – or Net Zero Carbon – is a term used to describe the state of an entity (such as a company, service, product, or event), where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.
These savings are generated by helping to fund renewable energy projects and energy efficiency projects, many of which bring additional social and community benefits in developing countries as well as reducing greenhouse gases.
There is an increasing number of businesses claiming to be carbon neutral. They recognize that being carbon neutral can play a key part in their sustainability and Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy whilst enabling them to do their bit for global climate change. They also realize that individuals and corporate customers prefer to buy products and services from environmentally conscious suppliers.
But at the same time, the main climate indicators are worsening. While the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced emissions, carbon dioxide levels are still at record highs – and rising. The past decade was the hottest on record; Arctic sea ice in October was the lowest ever, and apocalyptic fires, floods, droughts, and storms are increasingly the new normal. Biodiversity is collapsing, deserts are spreading, and oceans are warming and choking with plastic waste. The scientist tells us that unless we decrease fossil fuel production by 6 percent every year before 2030, things will get worse. Instead, the world is on track for a 2 percent annual rise.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a threshold the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is safe – carbon neutrality by the mid-21st century is essential. This target is also laid down in the Paris agreement signed by 195 countries, including the EU.
In December 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal, its flagship plan that aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. This target will be reached through the European Climate Law that sets climate neutrality into binding EU legislation.
Pandemic recovery gives us an unexpected yet vital opportunity to attack climate change, fix our global environment, re-engineer economies and re-imagine our future. Here is what we must do:
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