Net zero: Future or Fantasy?

Net zero. A simple concept but the difficulty lies within delivery.

‘Net zero’ refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions removed from the atmosphere. Like a bath with the taps on, an approach to achieving this balance can either be to turn down the taps (the emissions) or to drain an equal amount down the plug (removals of emissions from the atmosphere, including storage for the emissions such as ‘carbon sinks’).

Evidently, CO2 emissions are rising, due to the increase in human-influenced, or anthropogenic, activity which can be described as the Anthropocene[1]. This time period is a significant moment in history, as humans are actively shaping our climate and ecosystems due to the actions, decisions and mindsets today. Hence, we need to restore CO2 emissions to a reasonable level and adopt a ‘Net zero’ approach.

The Paris Agreement was established in 2015, with the aim to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In June 2019, UK Parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. However, where are we today?

This year, the UK government has announced a £1 billion investment in new school construction with a focus around ‘Green schools’ and zero carbon schools [2]. These investments will be a pathway to meet the UK net zero target by 2050 as well as encouraging education around sustainability. As a listed party of the Energy Performance Contract (EPC) framework, Panacea offers support to public sector schools by delivering and managing energy efficiency projects to save energy, reduce carbon emissions and optimise costs.

Key takeaways

  • To make a reasonable, sustainable impact, we must act today and in collaboration with other stakeholders
  • ‘Net zero’ is more than just meeting government targets, it is about increasing energy efficiency, saving costs and carbon emissions  

What next?

  • What is Net Zero?

Check out this TED video that clearly but effectively describes the principle of Net zero



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