Chasing Zero: Achieving net-zero by 2050 calls for great sacrifices by all stakeholders

March 10, 2023 - Reading Time: 2 minutes - By Abigael Ndanu

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a call to action, stating that global CO2 emissions must reach net-zero by approximately 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and prevent the most severe consequences of climate change. Achieving this balance, where CO2 emissions are equal to the amount removed from the atmosphere, will require real action.

However, it is possible to meet the 2050 goal with significant and urgent action across all sectors of the economy, including energy, transportation, buildings, industry, and agriculture. This is because decarbonization is a challenging journey that will require all sectors to act and put in timely action beyond mere commitments.

Africa is responsible for less than 4% of global carbon emissions, but the continent is disproportionately affected by climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, and food insecurity. Majority of Africa’s carbon emissions come from energy production, with a smaller amount coming from transportation and industry. Nevertheless, many African countries are proactively working to shift to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power in order to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

Kenya is among the countries that have set ambitious decarbonization targets to combat climate change. The government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by the year 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement ratified in 2016. To reach this goal, the government has implemented initiatives such as promoting renewable energy, adopting energy-efficient technologies, and improving public transportation systems. In addition, private sector companies in Kenya such as Safaricom have committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by adopting responsible operational practices, reducing their environmental footprint, and collaborating with stakeholders towards the same objective. This acknowledgment highlights the company’s ongoing efforts to shift to renewable energy sources and utilise technology to deliver clean energy solutions.

However, the question remains: what will it take to achieve these targets? While targets have been set, it will require dedicated effort and measures that may require sacrifice and significant investments. Actors will need to look beyond profits to achieve this, this includes financiers having to shy away from clients in oil industries, coal, and mining. Car manufacturers will need to modify their strategies towards low-emission vehicles, and businesses will have to forego ventures resulting in high emissions such as the use of firewood in factories and transition to the use of solar in their production processes.

Achieving net-zero will require countries to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. They will need to increase energy efficiency measures in buildings, transportation, and industry, promote sustainable agriculture practices, and reduce food waste. The use of low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage must also be encouraged. Investment in research and development of new technologies to reduce emissions, policies and regulations to incentivize emissions reductions, and ensuring that all sectors of the economy are accountable for their emissions and take responsibility for reducing them are also necessary steps.

Achieving net-zero by 2050 will be a significant challenge, but it is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It will require a collective effort from governments, businesses, and individuals to rapidly reduce emissions and transition to a more sustainable and equitable future. Through the implementation of policies supporting the net-zero transition, we can ensure that we are doing our part to combat climate change and preserve the planet for future generations.

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