Not Zero: How ‘Net Zero’ Targets Disguise Climate Inaction

‘Net zero’ has been all over the headlines and is even championed by many environmentalists. So you’d think it was a good thing, right? It should mean that the leopards are changing their spots – the polluters are starting to clean up their act.

Unfortunately, far from signifying climate ambition, the phrase “net zero” is being used by a majority of polluting governments and corporations to evade responsibility, shift burdens, disguise climate inaction, and in some cases even to scale up fossil fuel extraction, burning and emissions. The term is used to greenwash business-as-usual or even business-more-than-usual. At the core of these pledges are small and distant targets that require no action for decades, and promises of technologies that are unlikely ever to work at scale, and which are likely to cause huge harm if they come to pass.

A new technical briefing from climate justice groups – available in 4 languages – explores the story behind the headlines, examining some of the assumptions and claims that are taken at face value in most ‘net zero’ announcements. It examines the IPCC emissions reductions pathways that do not rely on unproven technologies such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and shows how the premise of offsetting upon which ‘net zero’ rests is unjust and unsustainable. Finally, the briefing offers a framework for a fair approach to global climate action and lists many examples of practical solutions that could be immediately implemented to really bring emissions down.

Download the joint technical briefing by ActionAid, Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth International, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, Third World Network, and What Next?

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