Today, the world emits about 60 gigatons of greenhouse gas a year to power the economy and our lives. Greenhouse gas is generated by the food we eat, how we commute, where we work and how we live. This can’t be turned off overnight – but we can take steps to get to a net zero world.
Net zero is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions so that over time, we achieve an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions removed from the overall atmosphere. The latest science shows that if we reach net zero by 2050 – essentially achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement – it would limit global warming to well below 2°C versus pre-industrial levels.* If we exceed that level, scientists say that we’ll suffer from the most detrimental climate impact.
To date, 127 governments around the world and over 1,000 companies have made or are preparing to make net zero commitments.^ Regulators are also making climate risk disclosure mandatory; central banks are stress testing for climate risk; and policymakers around the world are collaborating to achieve common climate goals.
Climate change is a collective problem that requires collective global action. Achieving net zero in 2050 isn’t something that can start in 2049 – it has to start today.
The bottom line is that achieving global net zero by 2050 is our best chance at mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. This will result in a large, structural change to our economy. Companies that manage to evolve and adapt their business models accordingly are going to be rewarded by the financial markets over the long term.
*Source: Climate Council, “What does net zero emissions mean?,” 2020 ^Sources: Climate Action Tracker, “Warming Projections Global Update” December 2020 and UN News, “UN chief stresses need for greater speed to achieve carbon neutrality,” November 9, 2020