If you live in Australia, it is highly likely that you have heard a lot of talk about net-zero in the media over the past few weeks.
The government has received enormous pressure from lobbyists, interest groups, businesses and citizens across Australia to commit to net-zero by 2050 ahead of COP26, an annual climate summit attended by leaders from around the world, taking place this year in Glasgow.
Unlike many terms in sustainability (such as eco-friendly, ethical… even the term sustainability itself) which are yet to be truly quantified by a authorising body, net-zero is a target which can be measured on an individual, local, national and even global scale.
What is net-zero?
Net-zero is a simple equation between the amount of greenhouse gases produced MINUS the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere. If this number is a positive number, it shows that the particular country, company or household is continuing to contribute to climate change. If the number is zero or negative, this is where we start to see a balance restored to what we are doing to our planet. This is the goal.
Is net-zero the same as carbon neutral?
While the two terms are very similar, they are not entirely the same. Carbon neutral refers to a similar equation but instead of all greenhouse gases, we are only looking at the equation between carbon dioxide (CO2) produced MINUS carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Carbon neutral is also sometimes interchanged with net-zero carbon; however, we try to avoid this in order to separate net-zero emissions and carbon neutrality.
You may also hear the terms carbon positive and carbon negative. Carbon positive means that the organisation measuring their environmental impact is actually taking even more CO2 out of the atmosphere than they’re putting in. Carbon negative is when the opposite happens and an organisation, a country or the planet collectively produces more CO2 than they are removing from the atmosphere.
Why is net-zero important?
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that stated we must work towards a net-zero by 2050 target in order to limited the increase in average global…