The world of today is moving toward a sustainable future, and the challenges to achieving the United Nations's net zero target by 2050 are becoming clearer. Many countries have already committed to reducing their carbon footprints, but the process of eliminating carbon emissions completely remains daunting. The good news is that there are many ways to address these challenges and improve carbon emissions management right now.

Cost of Achieving a Zero-Carbon Future

The primary challenge of achieving a zero-carbon future is the cost. To cut emissions completely, the global economy needs to change the way it generates energy. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are becoming more affordable today. However, they are still not cheap enough to replace fossil fuels on a larger scale.The effects of the global pandemic must also be taken into account. Businesses are still recovering from forced closures and low economic growth, thus making zero-carbon targets- especially for small to medium enterprises- even more challenging. Additionally, the infrastructure to support renewable energy sources is very expensive, and the cost of these upgrades can be prohibitive for many people.

Energy Sources

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving net zero emissions is the world's reliance on fossil fuels. Over the past few centuries, economies have relied on coal, oil, and natural gas to power homes, businesses, and industries. These fossil fuels are responsible for a large majority of the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change, so reducing or eliminating them is essential to meeting zero-carbon goals. However, fossil fuels are still the most abundant and affordable source of energy available today. Until renewable energy sources can meet the world's energy needs more reliably, the majority of the global population will continue to rely on fossil fuels.

Transportation System

Cars, buses, trucks, ships, and airplanes account for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions, so transitioning to an electric fleet is essential to reducing emissions. However, electric vehicles are still relatively new and expensive, so many people are hesitant to make the switch. Additionally, charging infrastructure is limited, making it difficult for people to use electric vehicles if they don’t have access to a charger. Currently, there are already several electric cars on the market. To reduce the emissions of transport vehicles, electric-powered technology must also created to not only power a vehicle, but also to power the systems involved in operating.

Carbon Accounting

To achieve a zero-carbon future, economies need to be able to accurately account for their carbon emissions. This is easier said than done because there are many different ways to measure emissions. For instance, emissions from transportation can be measured by the amount of fuel used, or by the number of miles driven. Emissions from the shipping industry can be measured through a carbon intensity indicator. Power generation can be measured by the amount of coal burned, or by the amount of electricity produced. All these emissions can come from a variety of sources. A company may produce steel in one country, ship it to another country for manufacturing, and then sell it to consumers in yet another country. In this case, it can be difficult to determine where the emissions occur.

Despite the challenges, carbon accounting is essential to achieving the zero-carbon target in the future. Since cost is one of the biggest challenges, governments can develop incentive programs and provide assistance to motivate businesses that are struggling to reduce their emissions. This way, even small things like investing in sustainable packaging will have an impact. Implementing carbon accounting procedures can help identify and address emissions hot spots to target reduction efforts. If businesses can pinpoint where their emissions are coming from, they can invest in cleaner technologies for those specific processes. Increasing transparency will also help ensure that businesses are accurately reporting their emissions and taking responsibility for them.

The challenges of going zero-carbon are significant but not insurmountable. Aside from the necessary measures that world economies must take, individuals need to do their part in saving the environment as well. There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint- driving less, recycling more, and using less energy at home. And even small changes can make a big difference.