Analysis: Net Zero Emissions Is a Long-Term Climate Challenge in Latin America
In an attempt to avoid the worst effects of climate change, more than 190 countries have pledged, through the Paris Agreement, to pursue the goal of limiting global average temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Scientists have said that achieving this will require bringing global emissions of carbon dioxide to “net zero” by 2050 – a huge challenge that Latin America is beginning to tackle.
Not to be confused with “zero emissions” – generating no emissions at all – net zero requires balancing surplus emissions with other actions, such as reductions or removals. Although governments and companies are committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions where possible, some sectors are expected to continue emitting for decades to come.
Polluters can attempt to offset these emissions by contributing to initiatives in other places or sectors that remove or reduce emissions. An airline, for example, may look to build a wind farm to compensate for its emissions; though currently expensive and not yet feasible at an impactful scale, others may look to use technology that removes emissions directly from the atmosphere; far more common, though not without its own issues, are schemes to plant trees and restore soils to capture more carbon dioxide.
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