Net Zero: what it is and how to turn your enterprise into zero carbon


The 2010-2019 decade was the hottest in all of history due to the large amount of net carbon emissions, which alter the greenhouse effect and increase global warming. If humanity continues at this pace of CO2 production, the projection is that the increase in the Earth's global average temperature will reach almost 4ºC by 2100, according to the organization Climate Action Tracker.

To prevent natural disasters caused by global warming – such as rising sea levels, melting glaciers, changing rainfall distribution, prolonged droughts and floods, and changes in the entire food chain – it is necessary to drastically reduce the use of fossil sources such as petroleum.

It is with this goal in mind that Net Zero emerged, a concept focused on developing strategies to achieve a balance of zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially carbon.

Net Zero has gained space in several organizations, especially in recent years, due to the growing pressure from shareholders, activists and customers for companies to maintain more sustainable strategies, ensuring a better quality of life for the planet and its inhabitants.

This commitment has also gained greater notoriety since the Paris Agreement, a 2015 world treaty between 196 nations, including Brazil, which aims to reduce global warming. In effetc since 2016, its main objective is to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC. This requires that nations achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

What is Net Zero?

Net Zero is the simplified name of Net Zero Carbon Emission. Net Zero targets establish a commitment to, first of all, reduce as much as possible the emission of greenhouse gases and, from there, neutralize residual emissions, that is, those that it has not been possible to eliminate.

How to become Net Zero

More than compensating, it is necessary to reduce net CO2 emission.

Many companies already offset carbon production with carbon credits, but it's time to go further. Organizations must have a management plan aimed at reducing net CO2 emissions.

This means that net zero emissions must be achieved not just by offsetting emissions but, in the first place, by reducing those emissions. The closer to zero the level of net CO2 emissions, the better.

Constant monitoring of targets

To support companies on their journey towards net zero emissions, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is developing criteria and methods for companies to set Net Zero targets as indicated by the latest climate science. In addition, SBTi released a document that establishes the fundamentals and guiding principles for these goals, and clarifies relevant concepts on the topic.
SBTi website, it is also possible to follow the process of elaboration of these criteria and goals and keep up-to-date on what is being produced.

Contributions to the Planet

There are several benefits to the planet as a whole when you become Net Zero. Not only from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic, social, governance, health and more aspects.

Lower level of poverty in the world

The reduction of net carbon emissions also contributes to the reduction of the global average temperature, thus decreasing the occurrence of fires, droughts and floods that destroy regions and lead to the advance of world poverty. With the adoption of Net Zero the quality of life of entire populations can be improved.

Healthier lifestyle

The more companies that adhere to Net Zero, the greater will be the changes in humankind's lifestyle. There is, for example, greater adoption of conscious consumption, not wasting food and non-polluting transport options, among others.

Greater preservation of fauna and flora

A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that a 2°C increase in global average temperature would result in the extinction of 99% of the planet's coral reefs, in addition to 16% of plants, for example.

As a result, animals that maintain a mutualistic or food-chain relationship with these biomes would also die. By joining Net Zero and reducing net carbon emissions, fauna and flora are also spared.

Lower risk of respiratory problems and skin cancer

One of the consequences of global warming for human health is the increased risk of respiratory problems, such as allergies, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, bronchitis, among others.

With a greater net carbon emission, the ozone layer is also affected and ultraviolet radiation reaches the Earth with greater force, which can lead to burns and even an increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts.

With a lower concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a reduction in the increase in global temperature, the Earth's natural protection and air quality improve, and thus, irritation in the airways, damage to the lungs and even some types of cancer are prevented.

Lower levels of obesity, malnutrition and even dengue

Climate change caused by exaggerated carbon emissions negatively affects food production and life. Consequently, there is less availability of natural foods and an increase in the insect population.

It is worth mentioning that a greater number of insects can result in greater use of pesticides in food, which, in turn, can lead to food poisoning and a greater demand for processed foods, generating an endless cycle.

By promoting carbon emissions reduction, it is possible to fight diseases connected to the lack of healthy foods, such as malnutrition and obesity; and also prevent diseases spread by insects, such as malaria, dengue, Zika, Chagas disease, among others.

Learn how to join ImPacto NetZero and become part of the change.