Net Zero Week is a government and industry-backed week dedicated to spreading awareness about net zero. This year’s event runs from July 1 to 7, 2023.
Net Zero Week is a great opportunity to learn more about net zero and what you can do to help. There are a number of webinars taking place across the week, so you can find something that’s right for you. You can also find more information and resources online at the Net Zero Week website.
What is net zero?
The term ‘net zero’ refers to the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero, and then compensating for any remaining unavoidable emissions through other methods. Net zero is not the same as ‘carbon neutral’, which means that emissions are offset from the get go by simply investing in projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, without attempting real reductions first.
Why is net zero important?
Climate change presents a threat to our way of life. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Earth’s average temperature has already risen by 1.1 °C since the Industrial Revolution, and without action, it could rise by as much as 4 °C by the end of the century. This would have devastating consequences, including more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and mass extinctions.
The temperature rise is the result of global warming, the process by which heat is retained within the atmosphere by greenhouse gasses, instead of radiated back into space as intended. These gases are the by-products of everyday activities, such as energy production, agriculture, and landfill, and have increased considerably since the industrial revolution.
Net zero is the best way to avoid the worst effects of climate change. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can limit global warming to 1.5 °C, which is the point at which the impacts of climate change are still manageable based on forecasts.
Where are we with net zero?
Net Zero Week comes the week after the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) presented its annual progress report to Parliament. According to the committee, its confidence in the UK’s ability to meet its 2050 commitments has “materially reduced over the last year.”
However, there are positives to consider. UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 46% from 1990 levels, a rate of decarbonisation that is faster than many of the world’s leading economies. There is also significant progress on the continued deployment of renewable electricity capacity.
In addition, today (3 July), the UK Emissions Trading Scheme Authority has announced a set of changes to make rules stricter for industries, power plants, and airlines to limit their emissions. Starting from 2024, these sectors will be required to bring down their pollution levels at a faster rate to reach net zero emissions – sending a clear signal from the UK government for businesses to invest in long-term efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
But there is much more to be done.
What can you do?
While the UK’s emissions are relatively small globally (around 1%), that number only considers emissions produced within the country and not those from other countries that make and transport products and services to the UK, such as China.
- As consumers, cutting down on unnecessary purchases, switching to renewable energy, and demanding better practices from businesses can go a long way to helping decarbonise the planet as a whole, whilst also improving working conditions in communities around the world.
- As a business, you have the power to change how your company interacts with the environment and community around you. Reducing waste, implementing energy-efficient technologies, and incorporating circular economy practices can inspire a broader change in the sector you work in.
The Net Zero Week website is offering several webinars to join in to learn more about how consumers and businesses alike can make a positive impact moving forwards.
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