Assume that climate change is a problem, that we’re causing it, that something must be done. OK, so, the aim must be to reduce emissions to where they’re not a problem, that’s obvious enough.
Emissions are a net problem. That is, the only thing that matters is the net emissions over the whole society. It cannot, for example, ever be true that an individual may have no gross emissions – that would ban breathing out. It must be that it is the net amount that matters. And it’s net over everything because the CO2 emissions from transport are not different from those of agriculture, or from planes are different from the extra energy used to cycle.
It’s the net number that matters. So, this is ghastly stupidity:
The science of net zero is simple: every sector of every country in the world needs to be, on average, zero emissions. We know how to do this for electricity, cars, buildings and even a lot of heavy industry. But in certain areas, including air travel and some agricultural emissions, there is no prospect of getting to zero emissions in the near future. For these residual emissions, greenhouse gasses will need to be sucked out of the atmosphere at the same rate as they are added, so that, on average, there are net zero emissions.
It’s that “every sector” that is the gross stupidity. For of course by the end of the paragraph he’s entirely contradicted the point. What matters is net emissions, not emissions from any one country, sector or activity.
This is important too. Take this idea that commercial air travel must stop. Yes, people are indeed insisting that this must be so. Because of that insistence that each sector must become zero emissions. As it’s gonna be difficult to have jet planes without emissions therefore no commercial aviation.
But aviation is currently 2% of emissions. -ish. So, we don’t in fact need to have zero emissions aviation – as the end of the paragraph says we don’t. We need to have some other process having negative emissions in order to be able to have aviation. We have such processes too – properly managed soil can suck up that amount, no problem.
That is, even if we go with net zero then it’s the net which is the important bit. Meaning that each sector doesn’t need to go to zero, but that we can have cross sector positive and negative.
Of course, the way to do this is just to have a carbon tax so that all prices reflect the costs but then actual solutions aren’t what people are looking for.