Climate: Understanding net zero in 1½ minutes


This week, we found out that News Corp is shifting its editorial standpoint on climate, towards supporting net-zero emissions by 2050. This comes less than two months before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Understanding the lingo is more important than ever.

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Video Chapters

00:00 – The problem

00:30 – Pouring a bath

00:58 – Why are we talking about net zero?

01:42 – Outro

Transcript —

Let’s start with the problem. We’re at a tipping point where climate change is being accelerated by an excess of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane. This mostly comes from digging up and burning coal, oil and gas. These gases trap the heat from the sun, which warms our planet at a faster rate than would otherwise be occurring.

A warmer planet means more extreme weather. Melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Now think of pouring a bath. If you plug the drain and turn on the taps, the tap will fill up. But imagine if those taps were really difficult to turn off. Eventually, we’d be facing an overflowing tub. To avoid flooding the bathroom floor. We must first turn the taps down as much as possible.

But if that’s not enough, we have to pull out the plug to drain some of the water from the tub. Once the output of water matches the input of water, we have net zero. The important word here. Net meaning? Overall reaching net zero emissions doesn’t necessarily mean not emitting any carbon dioxide. It just means balancing it out so that the net position is zero.

Basically, we take out what we put in. If Australia reaches net zero emissions, this means our business operations and human activity are in balance with the environment. So why are we talking about net zero? Well, if we’re to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the world needs to be at a point of net zero by 2050. But even if we get there, it still only gives us a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

So to better those odds, we need to act quickly to help speed this up. Many countries plan on having their emissions this decade. However, Australia is lagging behind with plans to only reduce emissions this decade by 26 to 28%.

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