The Issue of Net-Zero

When it comes to climate change, ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutral’ are perhaps the most popular concepts. So, what is ‘net zero’?

Net zero means that the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is equal to the amount of greenhouse gases captured from the atmosphere. In other words, the net zero issue is basically a pool problem: The amount of greenhouse gases entering the pool should not be more than the amount of greenhouse gases leaving the pool. In this context, there are two things that need to be done in order to achieve net zero: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and to capture as much greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as possible.

When you are interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, you realize that most of the news in the media about climate change is related to this issue. Issues such as the use of green energy sources, the transition to electric vehicles, making the industry as environmentally friendly as possible, waste management and a more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture are all related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It should be noted that the introduction of new carbon taxes and the establishment of market-based mechanisms such as the carbon emission trading systems are also initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our country, the Directorate of Climate Change, which was established on October 29 under the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, is authorized to establish the emission trading mechanism.

Since it is not possible to end greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases absorbed from the atmosphere is indispensable for achieving the net zero targets. There are different methods of carrying out this activity, which is also known as carbon dioxide removal or greenhouse gas removal in the literature. Forests come first as the most cost-effective solution. Forests not only draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they also prevent deforested areas from being used for emission-intensive activities such as industrial agriculture. Considering that it takes, on average, 10 years for a newly planted tree to reach its maximum carbon dioxide removal rate, it becomes clear once again why it is so important to stop deforestation[1]. The oceans perform a similar function to forests in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Given that two-thirds of the world is covered by water, with the protection and improvement of ocean habitat, the oceans are able to remove four times more carbon dioxide than all forests on earth[2].

Let me point out right away that there are also artificial methods of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. With this method, which is called direct air capture and carbon storage, carbon dioxide taken from the air can be stored underground. However, this method is both expensive and weak in capacity. To date, 19 direct capture facilities have been built in the world, and the largest of these facilities started operating in Iceland on 8 September, 2021. The facility, called Orca, which costs 10 million dollars, can capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a year, as much as the annual emissions of 870 cars[3].




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