Is net zero emission right answer? – UPSC GS3

What is net zero concept?
  • Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount of GHG removed from the atmosphere.
Issues with Net Zero Concept 
  • More focussed on supply-side: Critiques argue that net zero concept exclusively relies on nature based solutions and technological solutions for carbon removal and sequestration. Thus it discourages solutions based on demand side reduction.
  • Promotes dependence on costly tech solutions: Net zero also promotes strategy of “Burn Now Pay Latter strategy” which promotes our dependence on costly technological solution rather than affordable demand reduction strategies.
  • Net zero strategy increases our vulnerability by postponing actual reduction.
  • Fails to address the root cause of climate crisis and does not include ways to reduce the increasing demand of goods and services.
  • Promotes the idea of Growthism which means economic growth ensures care for environment.
  • Benefits only the large corporations through creation of Multibillion Dollar market by introducing mechanism of Carbon Offset.
Way forward 
  • Changing our lifestyles to reduce consumption demand: The ever-increasing demand for resources and energy-intensive lifestyles would make it next to impossible for technological fixes to reduce carbon emissions to maintain a balance towards the net-zero world.
  • Reducing materialism: We need to spread the idea that acquiring more and more things doesn’t translate into well-being. Both are not interrelated after one has secured means of a good life.
  • Balancing economic aspirations with environmental sustainability: Shift towards alternative economic model which balances environmental sustainability with economic growth.
A slow and sustained change in socio-cultural priorities and notions of good life, along with necessary infrastructural changes to support that, is the only way forward to realise a sustainable and just world for all.
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