Net Zero Myth-busting

Jane Courtnell
October 27, 2023
Two road signs in opposite directions with one that says myth and one that says fact

To do a good job in the fight against climate change and to reduce your organization's emissions, it's important you know the arguments against the net zero approach. You want to make sure your business addresses the downsides of the concept.

Below we’ve addressed the main criticisms of net zero:

  1. Offsetting over real reductions: net zero goals might focus too much on using offsetting projects. These can act like environmental credits giving leave for businesses to not reduce emissions. As stated by climate scientists James Dyke, Robert Watson, and Wolfgang Knorr: 

The problems come when it is assumed that these [technological fixes] can be deployed at a vast scale. This effectively serves as a blank cheque for the continued burning of fossil fuels and the acceleration of habitat destruction”. - James Dyke, Robert Watson, and Wolfgang Knorr, Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap

To fix this problem, companies should make sure they're reducing their emissions right now and only offset emissions that can't be reduced more. You can use Aclymate to figure out which emissions those are.

Other criticisms and how you can address them are discussed below:

  1. Greenwashing: Some companies say they're eco-friendly by promising to reach net zero, but they don’t actually have strong plans in place to reduce emissions. To avoid this, be honest about your current carbon footprint, your goals for reducing business emissions, and how well you're progressing toward these goals.
  2. Lack of urgency: Critics say waiting until 2050 to reach net zero emissions is too slow. Hence, it's important you set and meet smaller goals sooner to cut emissions faster. For this reason, Net Zero goals should include a 50% emission reduction by 2030, as advised by the Paris Climate Agreement.
  3. Scope 3 neglect: Sometimes, companies only look at the emissions they create directly (remember Scope 1 emissions) and forget about emissions from their supply chain and how people use their products. Aclymate helps you see all these types of emissions so you can work on reducing them all.
  4. Offset integrity: Some people wonder if carbon offset projects are trustworthy. These projects are supposed to balance out emissions, but some might not do it as well as they claim. To be sure, invest in offset projects that are checked and approved, like the ones listed on Aclymate's marketplace. These projects follow the five rules of carbon offsetting explained at the start of this article and are approved by trusted third parties.
  5. Unproven technologies: Certain net zero plans rely on new carbon removal methods that haven't been proven yet, which makes people worry if they'll actually work, as explained by Eric Reguly, European bureau chief for The Globe and Mail;

Most of these targets also assume...steady technological advances and outright breakthroughs' - Eric Reguly European bureau chief for The Globe and Mail, The net zero pledges are dubious. Burning fossil fuels for economic growth remains the priority

To address this concern, take steps to ensure your business sets short-term, interim emission reduction goals. Achieve these goals by using different methods to reduce emissions, investing in proven offsetting projects, and by supporting new, clean energy technologies. 

Recognize the Criticality of Limiting Earth’s Temperature Rise to 2.7°F (1.5°C) Above Pre-industrial Levels

Factory with smoke coming out of it

Based on data from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 1880, Earth's temperature has experienced an average increase of 0.14°F (0.08 °C) per decade, totaling approximately 2°F (1°C) over this period. Notably, the pace of warming has more than doubled since 1981.

2022 was recorded as the sixth-warmest year on record. All of the ten warmest years in recorded history have occurred since 2010.

To put this data into perspective, let’s say you were born in 1958. Over the course of your lifetime, from 1958 to 2022, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by approximately 33.2%. In this time period, Earth's annual average temperature has risen by 2.3°F (1.2°C).

Under this current trajectory, in the coming decades, alarming environmental changes are predicted:

The goal of net zero as a concept is to avert these adverse effects of climate change by capping Earth's temperature rise at 2.7°F (1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels. To do this, net zero necessitates a collaborative effort involving individuals, corporate leaders, and governments to establish a worldwide initiative where emissions released are counterbalanced by offsetting. The attainment of net zero is crucial, as it is pivotal for human stability and security.

Use your business to empower change: Take the pledge to achieve net zero

A man and woman high-fiving in an office

Failure to address climate change poses a substantial threat to human security and stability, with far-reaching implications for future generations. Net Zero helps countries, businesses, and individuals visualize an end goal that will mitigate climate change, and limit the rise of Earth’s average temperature to 2.7°F (1.5°C) higher than temperatures from before the Industrial Revolution (between 1760 and 1840). This will create a better future for our children. 

Aclymate is making it possible for everyone, whether you're a business or an individual, to achieve net zero. Use our 12-step plan to guide you on your journey. Save money, mitigate climate change risk, and better meet the needs of key stakeholders - what’s there to lose?

Together, we can use our businesses to change the narrative. Imagine a world where we live in harmony with our planet, where climate change isn't a threat. Go ahead, challenge yourself to make it happen! Take the pledge today to reach net zero and cut business emissions in half by 2030. 

If you have questions, our friendly team is here to help, so please get in touch!

Jane Courtnell
October 27, 2023

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