What is Net-zero?

What is Net-zero?

What is Net-zero?

Net-Zero is a concept used to describe an ideal state in which the amount of greenhouse gases emitted is balanced with the amount of gases removed from the atmosphere. This balance is also referred to as a net-zero emission level.

In a broader context, "Net Zero" means not adding to the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are emitted when we burn fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal for homes, factories, and transportation. This contributes to global warming by trapping solar energy.

To achieve the "Net Zero" goal, all aspects of our homes, transportation, and diet that contribute to emissions need to be addressed. This includes transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, giving up gasoline and diesel cars in favor of electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Zero Waste - reducing plastic waste

Zero Waste - reducing the use of plastic bags and products

Some examples of methods to reduce or adapt greenhouse gas emissions include:

  • Using renewable energy sources instead of fossil energy sources.
  • Enhancing energy efficiency and saving energy in areas such as transportation, industry, agriculture, and construction.
  • Preserving and restoring natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and marshes that can absorb and store carbon.
  • Utilizing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to capture and bury carbon underground or under the seabed.

In our current era, climate change is an urgent issue, and governments, city authorities, and companies are setting "Net Zero" targets. Committing to reducing this carbon emission demonstrates environmental responsibility and leadership commitment.

However, making statements is always easier than implementation and achieving practical results. Additionally, there may be confusion as there are many related terms. Carbon offsetting vs. "Net Zero": what's the difference? Carbon offsetting means achieving a carbon emission-free result for a company, location, product, brand, or event by first measuring, then reducing emissions to the extent possible, and finally offsetting the remaining emissions with avoidable or equivalent emissions. This can be achieved by purchasing enough carbon offset credits to make up the difference. In contrast, Net Zero is a more ambitious goal applied to the entire organization and its value chain. This means cutting indirect carbon emissions from first-tier suppliers in the value chain to end users, a significant effort in a world where companies don't control their entire value chain.

Green office - one way to achieve net-zero in construction

Green office - one way to achieve net-zero in construction

The net-zero target is considered a crucial step to limit global warming within the framework of the Paris Agreement on climate change. According to the Paris Agreement, countries commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial period and strive to stay at 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this goal, countries need to achieve net-zero by around 2050.

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Some benefits of net-zero include:

  • Minimizing the risk of climate change and its negative impacts on the environment, health, and economy.
  • Creating new opportunities for sustainable development, clean technology, renewable energy, green employment, and energy security.
  • Promoting international cooperation and solidarity in addressing global issues.

Some challenges of net-zero include:

  • Requires strong commitment and action from governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals worldwide.
  • Demands significant changes in economic structure, policies, laws, culture, and consumer habits.
  • Faces resistance and opposition from affected interests, such as the fossil fuel industry or countries with economies based on greenhouse gas emissions.

Some examples of countries, cities, businesses, and organizations that have committed to or achieved net-zero include:

  • [Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)] has committed to achieving net-zero by 2050 in the Joint Statement on Climate Change and Renewable Energy in 2023.
  • [Da Nang City] has become the first city in Vietnam and Southeast Asia to join the [C40] network, a coalition of major cities worldwide committed to achieving net-zero by 2050.
  • [Apple Inc.] has announced plans to achieve net-zero for its entire supply chain and products by 2030.
  • [United Nations (UN)] achieved net-zero for its operations in 2020 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using renewable energy, and purchasing carbon offset certificates.