Monday, February 19, 2024

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How Much Does Humanity Actually Need to Change to Achieve Net-Zero?

One of the biggest questions asked in regards to climate change is, how much does humanity actually need to change? And a new study answers that exact question in regards to achieving net-zero emissions.

The report only looks at automobiles, planes, and homes.

And spoiler alert, it’s actually not that large of a change. In fact, most people wouldn’t even feel the difference. For instance, you might imagine that reaching net-zero emissions would mean eliminating flying, but not really.

The report states that we would only need to cut travel by plane by 6% by 2035. And the rest of the changes are similarly small.

What Do the Other Stats Look Like?

Obviously, flying is only one piece of a very large puzzle, so let’s look at some of the other interesting facts the report stated.

For drivers, the change isn’t nearly as substantial as most people think. The report found that if everyone drove just 4% less than they do now, the impact would be great.

However, this is a bit of a misleading fact because the report also states that 60% of the car fleet should be electric.

Thus, current drivers would need to actually buy an electric car and then drive it less.

Homes are the most problematic part of the equation because it is difficult to quantify the numbers. The report found that 40% of households would need to switch to a low-carbon heating solution.

This is another way of saying, they need to get rid of their gas boiler.

This is actually unrealistic to be achieved by 2035, and the report even acknowledges that. However, to play devil’s advocate here, it’s not a very difficult change and would not affect the way people live. The heat would just come from something else.

Why Aren’t the Changes Bigger?

Charge Station

One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that we need to drastically change the way we live to fight climate change, but this isn’t true.

What really needs to change is what technology we use and where the energy that powers it comes from.

For instance, most experts are quick to sound off on the emissions from the transportation sector. But flying 6% less or driving 4% less is not really a big difference. This is because the technology is constantly evolving and emissions are reducing as a result.

Take an electric car, for example. It completely eliminates the emissions from a traditional car. And if renewable energy is used to charge it, the emissions are non-existent. And to be honest, that’s true for just about everything in our lives.

Not only will the technology we use change, but offsetting will also expand.

In fact, offsetting will be a major factor in achieving net-zero because it will not be possible to make some of the changes suggested, especially in the agriculture industry.

At least, not without collapsing the industry and global food chain.

So, Will Human Notice the Changes?

It really depends on the perspective you take.

In the short term, most likely. Think about it, you’re going to notice the car fleet slowly transition from fossil fuel cars. Gas stations will transform into charge stations and many minor things will improve.

But does it change everyday life? No.

It’s the same amount of change we have seen throughout humanity’s run.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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