The reality of net zero

3 June 2020

The reality of net zero

Tim Chapman, Director at Arup and a member of the Environmental Industries Commission net zero task force has recently written an interesting article which challenges some of the realities behind achieving net zero. His article written for Infrastructure Intelligence, here, points out some of the major factors to consider, most of which are not encouraging.

The considerations include the necessity for large scale carbon removal technologies, the requirement to change human behaviour to give up “comforts” such as flying and meat and the necessity to get started or move faster on large scale projects such as electrified rail or the insulation of private dwellings.

The article also states that despite the net zero rhetoric, carbon emissions continue to rise. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that any amount of money can be found to overcome a genuine emergency “Making much of humanity stay at home, a significant curtailing of economic output and an almost complete cessation of aviation with an 80% reduction in car use, has only resulted in a slight drop in emissions of around 5% of the annual total.”

The article is a sobering read and highlights the difficulties in reaching net zero. However, the past few months have shown how quickly a response to challenging times can be mobilised. The difficulty with climate change is that the changes are slow and that the damage may already have been done before an acceptable response is put in place. However, the economic impact of the pandemic does highlight the necessity to consider the potential climate risks under a variety of future scenarios so that your business is resilient in the face of an uncertain future.