Since the UK government set a net zero target of 2050, the framework has been widely adopted right across the economy, including in government, private companies and local authorities. Soon after this, some from the climate science denial community have tried to undermine efforts to achieve net zero as a mechanism for delaying or halting climate action. More recently, there has been discussion within the climate action community that net zero doesn’t go far enough.
Here is what some IEMA members had to say about whether they support net zero as an approach to addressing the climate emergency.
Simon Chubb MIEMA CEnv, Head of Sustainability, Anglia Ruskin University, said:
“At Anglia Ruskin University, we have developed a climate positive plan. Rather than aim for net zero, our goal is to become zero carbon by 2045 including scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions, without using offsets.
“We decided that climate action plans reliant on offsets could become reputational risks which may bite before the end of this decade. I suspect that many organisations will have to critically consider their plans around carbon offsets. There’s not enough land on the planet to plant all the trees needed for the carbon offsetting that net zero plans collectively require.”
Francisca Rockey, Student Member of IEMA and Director of Black Geographers, said:
“I am for net zero. Sustainability is all about balance so if we can find a balance between CO2 removal and reductions to anthropogenic emissions then I support it. What my issue is, is with the emptiness of net zero targets, take the UK government for example. Our net zero target is 2050, but in February, the North Sea oil and gas project Cambo was given the green light.
“How is the UK government going to meet its climate targets while actively increasing the amount of carbon we are emitting into the atmosphere?”
Adam Read, director of external affairs at Suez (an IEMA corporate partner), said:
“Net zero for Suez is a necessary. Not a necessary evil, just a necessary. It’s helpful for focusing the minds of the supply chain. It isn’t an end for us and I do worry about carbon offsetting, which often plays a role in net zero ambitions.
“Offsetting as a component of net zero climate action can be a good stop-gap tool while we deal with things like transitioning vehicle fleets to zero carbon, but if you’re serious about decarbonisation, I’m not sure offsetting is the right direction to go in.
“The focus on net zero can also mean that things like social value and biodiversity get missed out, both of which are critical to our business, which focuses on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.”
You can learn more about net zero on IEMA’s Pathways to Net Zero Course, which gives clear, consistent guidance on best practise in responding to the climate crisis.
Posted on 8th July 2022
Written by Tom Pashby
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