Net Zero Definition

Net Zero is a target to stop releasing Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) - mostly made up of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - into the atmosphere from human activity by 2050. It combines reducing as well as removing harder to eliminate emissions. It's the point at which any new emissions are balanced with those that we're taking out.

The UN-backed Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) defines it as 90% decarbonization - reducing GHG emissions from everything we do - and 10% high permanence carbon removal from the atmosphere (and storing it safely somewhere for as long as possible).

Note: not all Net Zero claims you see will follow this 90/10 science-backed definition, so you can't always take them at face value.

At Zopeful, whenever we say Net Zero we always mean 90% reductions and decarbonization with 10% removals.

It is sometimes also called Net Zero 2050. The year 2050 is relevant as this is how the climate models and projections are created to line-up with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global average temperature increases to between 1.5 to 2 degrees celsius. This is the less extreme end of the potential heating the world would experience if we continued to emit GHGs at the current high levels.

By achieving Net Zero on or before 2050 globally this gives us a good chance of slowing and then reversing human-caused climate change and avoiding some of the worst impacts not doing so would cause both for humans and everything else that lives on the planet.

Demystify more climate-related terminology with our Climate Buzzword Dictionary (yes, it's more of a glossary, but hey, this is what it's called now!).

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