10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted

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10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted

"The idea of carbon offsetting, which underpins so-called net zero targets, is founded on a number of myths." This commentary published on Climate Home News was first published as a debate article in the Swedish Newspaper DN where five of the co-authors are members in the Focali research network.

Comment: Carbon neutrality targets are often not as ambitious as they sound, relying on problematic carbon offsets and unproven technologies. 

By 41 scientists. 

In many cases, offsetting relies on capturing carbon in vegetation and soils. Such capacity is however limited and is needed to store carbon dioxide that we have already emitted.

Assumptions of future technologies and targets decades ahead delay immediate action. Countries and corporations must shift focus from distant net zero targets to real emissions reductions now.

The impacts of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly severe, everywhere. We are experiencing heat waves, floods, droughts, forest fires and sea level rise as a result of global heating. The average global temperature is rising at an unprecedented rate, rapidly diminishing the prospect of keeping global warming below 1.5C and with increasing risks of crossing irreversible tipping points.

In the face of growing demands for action, many countries and companies are making promises and setting targets to reach “net zero” emissions or “carbon neutrality”. These often sound ambitious and may even give the impression that the world is awakening and ready to take on the climate crisis.

In practice, however, net zero targets several decades into the future shift our focus away from the immediate and unprecedented emissions reductions needed. Net zero targets are generally premised on the assumption that fossil fuel emissions can be compensated for by carbon offsetting and unproven future technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But offsetting does not cancel out our emissions – yet action to do so is immediately needed.

Continue reading the article at Climate Home News

Read the original article in Swedish at Dagens Nyheter (if you have a subscription). 

The names of Focalimembers are bold in the list below:

Alasdair Skelton, Professor of Geochemistry & Petrology, Stockholm University

Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy, Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester

Andrew Ringsmuth, Researcher in Complex Systems & Sustainability, Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Caroline Greiser, Researcher in Ecology, Stockholm University

David Fopp, Senior Lecturer, Youth Studies, Stockholm University

Duncan McLaren, Professor of Cultural Political Ecology, Lancaster University

Doreen Stabinsky, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, College of the Atlantic,

Erik Huss, Geographer & Glaciologist, CEO Husstainability

Flora Hajdu, Associate Professor of Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance, University of Leeds.

Hanne Svarstad, Professor of Development Studies, Oslo Metropolitan University

Henrik Lagerlund, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Stockholm University

Isak Stoddard, PhD student in Natural Resources & Sustainable Development, Uppsala University

James Dyke, Assistant Director, Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter

Jens Friis Lund, Professor of Political Ecology, University of Copenhagen                               

Jillian Anable, Professor of Transport & Energy, University of Leeds

Joanna Haigh, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics, Imperial College London

Judith Nora Hardt, Postdoctoral Researcher in Climate Change & Security, Franco-German Centre for Social Science Research, Berlin

Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology & Ecological Economics, University of Lausanne

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate & Energy College, University of Melbourne

Kathleen McAfee, Professor of International Relations, San Francisco State University

Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy & Climate Change, Uppsala University and the University of Manchester 

Klara Fischer, Associate Professor of Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Linda Engström, Researcher in Rural Development & Policy, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Magnuz Engardt, Reader in Meteorology, Researchers Desk

Maria Johansson, PhD in Fire Ecology, Researchers Desk

Maria Wolrath Söderberg, Researcher in Rhetoric & Climate Communication, Södertörn University

Mats Björk, Professor of Marine Plant Physiology, Stockholm University

Niclas Hällström, Environment and Development Studies, WhatNext? 

Nils Markusson, Senior Lecturer in the Politics of Environmental Technology, Lancaster University

Paul Glantz, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science, Stockholm University

Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations, University of Sussex

Richard D. Pancost, Professor of Biogeochemistry, University of Bristol

Sarah Milne, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Development, Australian National University

Stephen Woroniecki, Researcher of Sustainability Science, Linköping University

Stig-Olof Holm, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Umeå University

Stuart Capstick, Deputy Director, Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, Cardiff University

Svetlana Gross, PhD student in Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics

Sören Andersson, Sustainability Advisor, thefuture 

Tor A. Benjaminsen, Professor of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Wim Carton, Assistant Professor of Sustainability Science, Lund University




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