When it comes to the insidious techniques that the industry is using to undermine climate negotiations and delay progress, there are many. Here, we discuss the changeable, intangible nature of net zero targets, and the futility of offsetting carbon emissions.
We’re inevitably going to hear grandiose fossil fuel busting pledges before the summit is out, but how many (if any) will make an actual difference?
Sitting through hours of delegate speeches for the 28th time, we’re ultimately concerned with two major details: How are fossil fuels going to be phased out, and how are the heaviest polluting nations working towards net zero targets – i.e. removing their anthropogenic carbon emissions.
Nonetheless, with the first deadline for the Paris Agreement in tow, and the IPCC warning it’s now or never to remain under 1.5C of global warming, governments and corporations continue to show more interest in creating deceptive mechanics than taking genuine action.
If you haven’t been keeping up with our playbook guide series, check out the previous part on ‘greenwashing’ and ‘individualising systemic problems.’
In this edition, we’re delving into the intangible nature of net zero targets and the futility of carbon emission offsets. Let’s get on with it… unlike the powers that be.
View this post on Instagram
Is net zero just a pipe dream?
As previously mentioned, peaking carbon emissions is the ultimate end goal and the only way to truly halt climate change. That prospect, however, is nowhere in sight.
Despite a growing coalition of 140 plus countries, 9,000 companies, and 600 major financial institutions apparently joining the race to zero emissions, our current global footprint needs to be reduced by 45% by 2030 or we’ve failed to remain under 1.5C.
How can both of these statements simultaneously be true?
Given that national economies alone account for roughly 91% of global GHG emissions, it doesn’t take a world class detective to ascertain that governments, quite plainly, aren’t following through with their pledges.
The path to reaching net zero is dotted with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which encourage countries to achieve short-term goals to ensure long-term success.
The problem is that just 12 of 35 net zero policies are legally binding, meaning financial prosperity takes precedence over ecological prosperity and nobody bats an eyelid.
NDCs are confused, chopped, and changed regularly to kick the can down the road, and significant mitigation agreements are too scarce to really matter. Just last September, G20 leaders failed to agree on a timeline to phase out fossil fuels rendering the meet largely pointless.
Despite posturing as a ‘green leader,’ the UK has pushed its net zero target back from 2030 to 2035, China is slating its supposed transition for 2060, and India is aiming for 2070 as a baseline – a whopping 20 years too late, by all accounts.
Global corporations, meanwhile, are throwing their hat in the ring to lap up the positive PR without actually following through on eco pledges. Greenwashing is everywhere!
Commercial giants such as Amazon, Ikea, Nestle, and Walmart are falling catastrophically short of their net zero targets, while oil companies are relying on untested technology and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects, which only prolongs the life of fossil fuels and halts any holistic transition to renewable energy.
Quite frankly, if you want brownie points… bake the damn brownie.