A company or organization that flags carbon neutrality is essentially committed to reducing its own CO2 emissions for as long as it can be offset by carbon sinks on the ground, ie natural systems that are able to sequester more carbon than they emit. The main natural carbon sinks include soils, forests and oceans. . The downside, however, is that our planet’s natural carbon sinks are capable of sequestering up to 11 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and the carbon stored in them is re-released into the atmosphere during, for example, forest fires, land use or logging. Carbon dioxide is largely responsible for the development of the greenhouse effect, thus contributing to the acceleration of global warming, which threatens to avoid unavoidable consequences such as ocean warming, leading to the collapse of ocean currents and the complete change of climates known so far. It is also behind the increasing frequency of droughts and forest fires. As a result, additional carbon dioxide is released, triggering a process that is very difficult to curb – if at all possible.
Giants for neutrality
While we’d like to believe that the leaders of the world’s big companies have realized that the entire planet cannot be sacrificed to maximize profits, it is more likely that international regulations and sound environmental protection in marketing are the drivers of change. Regardless of motivations, however, it can be said that the medium- and long-term strategy of many tech companies includes the development of carbon-neutral operation of their production lines and offices. Apple plans to transition by 2030, with Amazon and General Motors announcing by 2040 that their operations will become completely carbon neutral. Google says it has been carbon-neutral since 2007, but by 2030, its goals include making the company carbon-free. But what does this mean in practice?
What is the difference between carbon neutrality and neutrality?
If we do not burn fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas or oil, in our daily activities, we will not emit carbon dioxide, ie we are not only carbon-neutral but carbon-free.
There is a so-called compensation scheme in several parts of the world, including the European Union, which is forcing companies to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in question affects more than 11 000 power stations and plants, sets a CO2 emission threshold, and below this limit, companies can only pollute the air in exchange for CO2 quotas. And they have to pay for them through auctions, so they are motivated to keep emissions as low as possible. The quota works by allowing one unit of CO2 to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide. Unused allowances can be sold by companies
Another example of helping to reduce emissions could be a carbon offset measure and a related carbon offset. If products come from a country with looser climate protection rules than the EU, the manufacturer will have to pay a carbon tax on them, ensuring that imports are not cheaper than an equivalent EU product – read the European Parliament
The amounts thus paid may normally be used only for the promotion of renewable energy sources, afforestation or other similar purposes.
Both solutions mean that companies can safely emit carbon dioxide under the heading of carbon neutrality as long as they can offset it financially.
Although offsets can prevent further increases in CO2 emissions, – as mentioned earlier in the article we ate – the language of the scales had long since tipped over. Carbon neutrality is not enough to restore this, not least because the fact that an energy production method does not produce greenhouse gases does not necessarily mean that we are talking about an environmentally friendly method.
Although both nuclear energy , both dam hydroelectric power plants help reduce CO2 emissions, long-term storage of nuclear waste generated by the former is extremely costly and not at all risk-free, while the latter drastically transforms river wildlife, in some cases destroying entire species.
However, there are renewable energy sources which do not pollute the environment with carbon dioxide or any other means.
Such as geothermal energy, which is purely planetary uses the heat generated by our tin. Also included are biomass and bio-waste processing systems that are capable of producing energy using agricultural waste. There are, of course, hydropower plants with a minimum load on aquatic life, which can be a good solution, as can wind and solar energy.
Overall, therefore, although carbon neutrality is the first step in towards a sustainable future, we cannot see it as a panacea for all problems – no matter how it sounds from the mouths of marketers. The really green solution is carbon-free renewable energy, which allows far fewer greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere.
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