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Where we stand in the Journey towards Carbon Neutrality

Tania Ray Bhattacharya

Is carbon neutrality practically possible to achieve, grossly within 30 years down the lane? The world is looking for the answer. The countries are running behind to achieve a carbon neutral target, i.e., achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks, e.g., the vegetation and the ocean.

We regularly see the recent disasters and havocs all over the globe due to the effect of climate change and global warming. And in order to curb the global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius –a safe threshold suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)– carbon neutrality to be achieved by mid-21st century is essential. This target is also declared in the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries.

While, numerous measures are taken worldwide to reduce the carbon emission from past years, but yet, actually a massive journey is ahead to reach the target, and the pathway is not very clear. It’s a bit of comfort that our pandemic-struck and locked-down planet could cut its carbon dioxide emissions last year i.e., 2020 by 7%, the biggest drop ever achieved. But still, the world, on average discharges 1,185 tons of CO2 into the air every second.

And what about the carbon absorption/ sequestration? Apart from the natural carbon capture to be increased with massive afforestation programs, the CCS technologies are also important as climate protection  technologies, already used by many developed countries and very important for the coal-rich  countries  like  India and other emerging economies, having  potential  in  hugely  reducing  CO2  emission . Though the period of 1970-80 saw the starting of CCS technologies  but the good news is that the costs of these technologies are falling rapidly  while  next  generation  technologies  are  getting unleashed, making them affordable.

Though 2020 experienced a major drop of CO2 emissions, but a rebound this year is almost certain, because the drop was the result of temporary behavioral and life style changes rather than structural reforms. While the Governments need to concentrate on the structural reforms through stricter policies, each individual business should do their best to cut the emissions through sustainable green production, and for the people, sustainable consumption patterns, life style changes, maintaining the new trends learnt in the COVID era are the need of the hour.  

Let’s hope, it would be possible to reach the carbon neutrality target if the global community works together.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this article is of the author herself, this does not reflect the ideology of the organization. The views are personal and are for public address