Is net zero emission concept zeroing in on Climate change?

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Source: Down to Earth

Relevance: Flaws with the net-zero concept

Synopsis: The world has seen a massive surge in voluntary commitment to achieve net-zero emission targets but there are inherent problems with the net-zero concept. Listing few such problems and a way forward.

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. 

  • The present market based arrangements are based on Net zero concept which is more focused on Supply side mechanism rather than Demand side reduction which is leading to Net increase in emission rather than reduction in GHG. 
Issues with Net Zero Concept 
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Net zero strategy increases our vulnerability by postponing actual reduction.
  4. Fails to address the root cause of climate crisis and does not include ways to reduce the increasing demand of goods and services.
  5. Promotes the idea of Growthism which means economic growth ensures care for environment. 
  6. Benefits only the large corporations through creation of Multibillion Dollar market by introducing mechanism of Carbon Offset.
Way forward 
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Also Read: Leveraging traditional lo-tech innovations to fight climate change


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