Net Zero is an ideal state where the amount of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) released into the earth’s atmosphere is balanced by the amount of GHGs removed. More than 1,500 companies with a collective revenue of over US$12.5 trillion have now set or pledged to commit to net zero targets. This brings opportunities to develop new clean technologies and build resilient, low-emissions industries.
Why does Net Zero matter?
Net Zero aims to balance the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by various sectors such as manufacturing, energy, transportation and agriculture, helping to slow down and eventually halt global warming. Achieving Net Zero can help stabilize the global climate and mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity.
Greenhouse Gases Life Cycle
GHGs are generated from various natural processes and human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, land-use changes, industrial processes, transportation, and waste management.
· Atmospheric Accumulation
Once emitted, GHGs accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for varying periods, depending on their properties and removal mechanisms. Their presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change.
· Disposal Processes
GHGs are removed from the atmosphere through processes such as carbon sequestration (for CO2), oxidation (for CH4 and N2O), and photodissociation (for fluorinated gases). These processes help to reduce the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere.
What is driving the Net Zero Industry globally?
. Government Policies:
Governments around the world are implementing policies to drive net zero emissions, such as carbon pricing, renewable energy targets, and regulations on emissions from industry and transport.
. Social Awareness:
Many companies are recognizing the importance of reducing their carbon footprint to meet their social responsibility goals and to remain competitive in a rapidly changing business landscape.
. Technological advancements:
Advances in renewable energy, Electric Vehicles, and other technologies are making it increasingly feasible and cost-effective for businesses and governments to pursue net zero emissions.
. Financial incentives:
The total funding for Net Zero is $3815M in 2022 and there are increasing financial incentives for companies to pursue net zero.
Net Zero overview in Australia
In Australia, the national objective is to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The government will invest AUD 20 billion in low emissions technologies over the next decade, hoping to unlock AUD 80 billion of private and public investment on green technologies. In addition, Australia is on track to beat the 2030 target and it has reduced emissions faster than many comparable economies. However, the main challenge is to continue growing a prosperous industry and economy as we move towards Net Zero but it also leads to new industries and new jobs. The key stakeholders include government agencies such as the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Waters and CSIRO, as well as associations such as Net Zero Australia and Australian Energy Market Operator.
Opportunities of transitioning to Net Zero
Achieving Net Zero presents a wide range of opportunities for emissions reduction and offsetting through industry-specific innovations and climate/carbon technologies such as carbon capture, direct air capture, carbon sequestering projects and carbon market. These initiatives not only contribute to addressing climate change but also create new economic opportunities and support sustainable development.
The Net-Zero Industry tracker: An interactive guide for executives. World Economic Forum. (2022, July 28). www.weforum.org/reports/the-net-zero-industry-tracker
Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. United States Environmental Protection Agency. www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
Mulligan, J. et al. (2023) 6 ways to remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere, World Resources Institute. www.wri.org/insights/6-ways-remove-carbon-pollution-sky
Technology investment roadmap. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. www.dcceew.gov.au/climate-change/publications/technology-investment-roadmap