Net zero means that no more greenhouse gases are being added to the air. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane are both examples of greenhouse gases.
When oil, gas, and coal are burned in homes, workplaces, and cars, they give off CO2. Methane is made by farming and putting trash in landfills.
By holding on to the sun’s energy, these gases raise the warmth of the whole planet.
As the world’s forests are being cut down quickly, there are fewer trees to take in CO2.
Under the 2015 Paris climate deal, 197 countries agreed to try to keep world temperature rises to 1.5C by 2100.
Scientists said that by the year 2050, there should be no CO2 pollution at all.
But now, the UN wants countries to move up their net-zero goals by 10 years to stop what it calls “the growing climate disaster.”
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Not all pollution can be brought down to zero, so the ones that remain must be made up for by taking greenhouse gases out of the air. “Offsetting” is the word for this.
Some natural ways to make up for the damage are to plant trees and fix up peatlands.
Carbon capture and storage is an industrial method that uses machines to take CO2 out of the air and store it, usually deep underground. But the technology is still developing, and it is still expensive.
Even though balance is important, it can only make up for a small amount of the greenhouse gases that are already being released.
So, scientists say that we need to cut our use of fossil fuels by a lot if we want to reach the net zero goal.