As the world is being confronted with various environmental catastrophes associated with climate change, the term net zero has become one of the most important concepts in global discussions. Governments and industries around the world are being urged to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions and take steps to achieve net zero by 2050 in response to the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26). In Malaysia, the commitment is shown in many ways, including offering schemes and incentives to encourage renewable energy adoption. Other countries are also making significant efforts by exploring remarkable pathways to cut carbon emissions.
In fact, the 2015 Paris Agreement recorded over 190 countries including Malaysia pledge to limit the rise in global average temperatures to 1.5°C and mitigates the effects of climate change. This pledge has mounted pressure on governments and companies, prompting them to take action. Investors are now not only demanding forward-looking disclosures but also expecting credible plans for how major companies manage and reduce their emissions. Ultimately, achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is a global goal that must be understood before targeting and strategizing efforts toward achieving it.
What is Net Zero?
The concept of Net Zero refers to the goal of reducing emission levels as close to zero as possible and offsetting the emissions that cannot be removed to prevent the addition of GHGs to the atmosphere. Put simply, net zero is a state where the number of emissions emitted to the atmosphere is equal to the number of emissions being removed. Among all GHGs, carbon dioxide is the most prevalent gas which accounted for 77% of global gas emissions. The rise of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is majorly contributed by human activities such as burning fossil fuels that come from natural gas, land-use change, and deforestation. Conversely, the removal of carbon can be performed by environmental processes such as carbon capture and sequestration which revolve around the elimination of carbon from the atmosphere. The term net zero emission is also often used interchangeably with the terms carbon neutrality and net zero carbon footprint, which both refer to an effort of balancing the emissions.
How Can Net Zero Carbon Emissions Be Achieved?
Achieving net zero carbon emissions requires the adoption of low-carbon emission pathways. This may include the deployment of clean energy to replace fossil fuels, reducing total energy consumption as well as increasing energy efficiency. Energy-dense liquid fuels made from hydrogen and ammonia, biofuels, synthetic hydrocarbons, and direct solar fuels may be critical to supplying the energy required to operate stationary and mobile energy production sectors. Further, to achieve the target by 2050, policy orientations must shift at all levels, where technological development is adapted to international climate goals, and changes in corporate and consumer behavior are fully emphasized. In general, the goal can be achieved through these two prime strategies:
As its name suggests, this effort involved the reduction of carbon emissions by adjusting industrial, agricultural, and other processes. One major way to do this is by adopting renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind energy) and improving energy performance. While both fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel-based energy sources produce emissions, non-fossil fuel-based energy sources are infinite and produce much lower emissions compared to coal and natural gas. In fact, according to Climate Action, renewable energy could significantly reduce carbon emissions by over 70% by 2050.
Alternatively, carbon removal refers to the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it elsewhere. This can be done either naturally or artificially, for instance, forests, which are known as carbon sinks that are able to store carbon, can absorb a net of 7.6 billion metric tons of CO2 per year. Unlike some strategies for cooling the climate and mitigating global warming, this strategy does not require costly and complex technological arrangements to capture and store carbon, making it a key strategy in the fight against climate change.
Why Net Zero is Important and What Will Happen if it is Not Achieved by 2050? Net zero emission has become the latest buzzword in climate action ever since serious environmental problems are happening around the globe. As global warming occurs at an alarming rate, extreme weather events linked to climate change like floods and heat waves are hitting humans and other species much harder than before. If we are to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels as pledged in the 2015 Paris Agreement, then the net zero goal is imperative to be achieved. Without the net zero emissions target, there will be no urge to reduce emissions globally and the amount of carbon being released into the environment will continue to escalate. The result of this is that a greater number of greenhouse gases will be continuously trapped in the atmosphere, accelerating the effects of climate change as the Earth heats up.
Up to 216 million people currently live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by 2100. (Photo: Rich Carey/Shutterstock)
As the largest threat to our world today, climate change is indeed one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. It is a global problem that has profound consequences for the environment and human safety. When the planet gets warmer, the sea levels rise, and more extreme weather events occur. Scientists believe that this situation is likely to cause ever-worsening extreme weather and potentially catastrophic sea level rise, resulting in the inability to live in some parts of the globe and fueling hunger and migration around the world. This, along with growing public pressure, is the reason why a growing number of countries, companies, and others are pledging to cut their emissions to zero by 2050 or before. Fundamentally, the potential impact of climate change on the environment and the future of our planet would be immense and irreversible, and for this reason, everyone should be committed to working towards this goal.
How to Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions?
The world has become aware that carbon emissions need to be significantly reduced if the climate is to be kept within safe limits. To achieve the net zero carbon emissions goal, everyone plays a crucial role. At the government level, it is critical that policymakers work together to find solutions that address both local and global challenges. These may include acting on energy efficiency, implementing carbon pricing, regulating the energy and transport sectors, increasing clean energy generation, promoting green businesses, and reducing emissions from land use, among others.
Meanwhile, companies and businesses play a vital role by making fundamental transformations in their value chains, business models, and governance structures. Efforts must be made to reduce emissions through sustainable solutions including the transition to clean energy and adhering to ESG standards. As individuals and society, everyone can significantly contribute to achieving net zero by reducing their carbon footprint through sustainable practices and being advocates for a greener future.
Achieving Net Zero with Renewable Energy
As countries around the world adopt policies and practices to reduce emissions, renewable energy plays an increasingly significant role in helping to meet net zero and climate goals. Indeed, the transition toward green energy and a low-carbon economy calls for the integration of renewable energy sources such as solar power more strongly into the grid to replace higher-carbon sources like coal and gas. Through the adoption of renewable energy, consumers will continue to have access to affordable and sustainable electricity in the near future while contributing to a greener world. Realizing that the goal of net zero emissions is a journey that needs to be supported together, a mature strategy and planning need to be prepared for the development of renewable energy.
Climate change is already evident, and if carbon emissions are not significantly reduced and mitigated, the effects are only going to get worse. While the country has made commitments since the 2015 Paris Agreement, there has been a lot of progress towards achieving the net-zero Malaysia target. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to reach the goal by 2050. To achieve the target, necessary breakthroughs will be needed in many areas. This includes developing alternative energy sources, improving energy efficiency, reducing the use of fossil fuels, and promoting carbon pricing. That said, the transition to a low-carbon economy will require the development of innovative technologies and processes supported by clean energy. From a climate perspective, the most crucial factor is that everyone is working together to reduce carbon emissions at every level. In doing so, more emissions can be prevented from entering the atmosphere and the future can be safeguarded against the dire consequences of climate change.
As a Net-Zero partner, Progressture Solar, one of the leading solar energy companies in Malaysia with a diversified portfolio is committed to contributing to the global movement to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We are an experienced Clean Energy provider and a Net-Zero partner that provides turnkey RE solutions ranging from solar development, energy efficiency, EV charging, energy storage, and ESG advisory. We facilitate the ownership of solar PV systems through Zero Capex and outright purchase to help businesses achieve their net zero ambitions and reduce energy costs. In addition to providing clean energy solutions through RE development, Progressture Solar assists companies in monitoring and reducing their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to further accelerate their climate and ESG goals.
At Progressture Solar, we embark on a new chapter in our sustainability journey together with all our stakeholders; employees, clients, partners, and the communities we serve. Together, we are dedicated to creating a better future that can be looked forward to by the generation to come.