Charting the net zero Charting the net zero journey

In 2015, the United Nations Climate agreement set out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. This would be akin to going back to the pre-industrial years. The agreement charted a fresh course in the effort to tackle global climate change. World leaders committed to balance greenhouse-gas emissions in the second half of the century, so that the total of greenhouse gasses emitted from human activities reduces to zero. Consequently, more nations, companies and institutions are announcing net zero targets.

It is universally agreed that the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the cost of reducing carbon pollution. A Stanford University study finds that inaction could cause a stunning 30 percent loss in future global economic output — whereas the world’s scientists and governments have concluded that even the most aggressive climate action costs under 0.1 percent GDP. Since 2000, global warming has cost the United States and the European Union at least $4 trillion in lost output and tropical countries are 5% poorer than they would have been without climate change impacts, according to Stanford research.

On the other hand, achieving net zero emissions by mid-century would cost an estimated $1 trillion-$2 trillion (774.83 billion pounds-1.55 trillion pounds) a year of additional investments, or 1-1.5% of global gross domestic product. This is based on a report[2] by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC)It said the additional investments required “are easily affordable, given current global savings and investments, particularly in the prevailing macroeconomic context of sustained low interest rates.

Africa accounts for only 2–3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources. Whilst the African region has made a negligible contribution to the greenhouse emission problem, the international community largely expects Africa to respond in much the same way as the rest of the world. Africa is also home to 14% of the world’s forest cover which serves as carbon sinks, it plays a vital role in achieving global net zero.

Achieving a just transition – one where climate objectives are met without depriving developing countries of their opportunity to grow and prosper – will require capital and specialised support. African countries, especially the large oil producers, lack the means to fully transition from fossil fuels. The sustainable way forward is hinged on adapting alternative energy and gradually increasing its share in the race to meet the global targets in 2050.

Sarmad Lone, oluwatosin.ojebisi@hkstrategies.com.ng

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