IATE Term of the Week: Carbon Neutrality

carbon neutr feature

To date more and more companies turn into a carbon neutrality strategy. Microsoft, Sainsbury and the Bank of America are some examples of this practice. They invest money on research to obtain net-zero carbon footprint. The European Union also aims to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, as the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has announced. Currently two EU countries have set the target of climate neutrality in law: Sweden aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 and France by 2050.

Carbon neutrality is succeeded when there is a balance between emitting and absorbing carbon to and from the atmosphere. Carbon sinks help in preserving this balance. Carbon sinks are the systems that absorb more carbon than they emit. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans. According to estimations, natural sinks remove between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year when the annual global CO2 emissions reached 37.1 Gt in 2017. Therefore, one way to become carbon neutral is by protecting all these natural sinks. Imagine that when a forest is burnt, then not only is a natural sink destroyed, but at the same time, a huge quantity of carbon is emitted to the atmosphere. Another way of achieving the balance is to offset emissions made in one sector by reducing them somewhere else. This can be done through investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency or other clean, low-carbon technologies. The EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) is an example of a carbon offsetting system.

The number one target of the European Union now is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The long-term, strategy is to achieve a climate neutral economy by 2050. A strategy to cut emissions will be drawn up for each EU country to make sure they decrease emissions at a constant pace throughout this period.

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Bank of America Announces Carbon Neutrality One Year Ahead of Schedule, environmentalleader.com. Accessed on February 2020.

Sainsbury’s in £1bn investment to become carbon neutral by 2040, theguardian.com. Accessed on February 2020.

Microsoft makes ‘carbon negative’ pledge, bbc.com. Accessed on February 2020.

Climate change, europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on February 2020.

EU progress towards its climate change goals (infographic), europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on February 2020

Climate change in Europe: facts and figures, europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on February 2020.

Cutting EU greenhouse gas emissions: national targets for 2030, europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on February 2020.

antonia pappa

By Antonia Pappa. Born in Greece in 1992, she holds a Bachelor degree of Communication, Culture and Media.