Before we share why the current national net-zero fossil fuel reduction pledges are a fossil fuel industry-sponsored scam it is necessary for you to understand what net-zero emissions are. Net-zero carbon emissions theoretically means that we are not adding any more carbon to the atmosphere than we are taking out of it.
However, for the many reasons discussed in this article, net-zero emission claims do not mean we are stopping current dangerous global carbon emissions from going beyond the current levels. Worse yet, as you will discover below, net-zero emissions also do not mean that we are reducing ANY of the carbon and other greenhouse gases already in our atmosphere.
More about the net-zero salvation delusion
Net-zero carbon dioxide emissions theoretically can be achieved by balancing the local, regional, national, or global carbon dioxide emissions with its removal. This net-zero process is conducted in two ways:
a. by directly eliminating and removing those carbon emissions from society (the most successful and proven method) or,
b. by what is called carbon offsetting. (Carbon offsetting can be done in numerous ways, but as you will read below, it is currently the least effective way to resolve the global warming emergency. It is the method most often proposed by politicians because it is so vague, difficult to verify, and can be falsely manipulated in many ways to produce little to nothing. It is a colossal understatement is to say that using carbon offsetting as the primary focus to achieve net-zero carbon emissions is a massive danger for society.)
The above carbon offsetting chart looks and sounds wonderful and hopeful, but there is much more to this carbon net-zero illusion. But...
Carbon net-zero promises are a false hope that will not save us in time! Many of its actions are based upon the misinformation promoted by fossil fuel producers and related fossil fuel-dependent industries.
Honest, independent, and non-politicized climate researchers have been trying to tell the world for over 50 years humanity is facing near-total extinction. These researchers have been begging us to begin immediate global fossil fuel use reductions to come as close as possible to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets to survive the coming near-total extinction threat. (Near-total extinction is defined as 50 to 90+ % of humanity going extinct from the primary and secondary consequences of runaway global heating.)
The 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets are not anything like or close to the fossil fuel industry-sponsored national net-zero carbon neutral targets, which nations are saying they will reach by 2070, 2060, 2050, 2040, or even 2030! For instance, at COP26 India has pledged it will be net-zero by 2070, and China promised it will be net-zero by 2060.
With much theatrical media coverage, Saudi Arabia also announced it will become net-zero emission by 2060. (Including the US at net zero by 2050, India and China make up the world's three largest carbon emitters.)
But, there are big secrets concerning the net-zero carbon-neutral pledges. They, too, are nothing more than feel-good illusions that do not produce anything even close to what is being promised or needed!
These net-zero pledges are based predominantly on carbon offsetting. A carbon offset is supposed to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions or other greenhouse gases by compensating with emissions produced elsewhere.
There are two huge problems with carbon offsets:
1. Carbon offsets (and the carbon sequestration which they often involve) cannot come even close to scaling up adequately or in time to save the half of humanity that we still could save by getting close to the 2025 global fossil fuel targets. And,
2. Carbon offsets are very difficult to verify, have considerable incentives for fraud, and are easy to fake by both purchasers and the suppliers of such carbon offsets. Additionally, carbon offsets currently have either no penalties or weak penalties for fraud.
James Hansen, the first climate scientist who warned us unchecked global warming would lead to our near-total extinction, has described carbon offsets as "modern-day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon-conscious public to absolve their climate sins." Carbon offsets may also be interpreted as greenwashing.
This is especially true in the case of most corporate commitments, which do not include actionable goals and schedules that implicate that their 'net-zero' emission goals are anything more than good publicity.
Theoretically, carbon offsets were meant to support projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the short or long term. A common offset project type is renewable energy, such as wind farms, biomass energy, biogas digesters, or hydroelectric dams. Other offsets include:
Energy efficiency projects like efficient cookstoves.
The destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts.
The destruction of landfill methane.
But, that is not what is really happening. Instead, carbon offsets have become another clever way for nations to make fabulous public net-zero pledges, which facilitate hiding their lack of actual fossil fuel reduction from their citizens and the world.
In addition to the fraud-friendly carbon offset issue, most net-zero carbon neutral pledges are back-end loaded, meaning most of the cuts are to come well after 2025. (Our last chance fossil fuel reduction target for keeping runaway global heating under our control.)
Most of these "emperors' new clothes" pledges also assume steady major technological advances in currently non-existent or unproven technologies or outright revolutionary tech breakthroughs that will somehow reach the required levels of development and scale to save us at the last moment. These net-zero carbon-neutral pledges are just another form of illusion keeping us from making the real and hard choices.
These pledges also specifically exclude all fossil fuel exports from figuring into the national accounting and calculations for the net-zero pledge goals. As you can see, net-zero carbon-neutral pledges have more loopholes than a swiss cheese has holes.
Unfortunately, there is yet more to the net-zero carbon neutral illusion:
a. Tracing the history of illusions in climate policy from 1988 to 2021, climate scientists James Dyke, Robert Watson, and Wolfgang Knorr "[arrive] at the painful realization that the idea of net-zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier "burn now, pay later" approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar!
b. In his 16-page report, Dangerous Distractions, economist Marc Lee states that "'Net-zero" has the potential to be a dangerous distraction that reduces the political pressure to achieve actual emission reduction." "A net-zero target means less incentive to get to 'real zero' emissions from fossil fuels, an escape hatch that perpetuates business as usual and delays more meaningful climate action."
c. Current net-zero policies will not keep warming within the UN's 1.5°C temperature rise target because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. If we want to keep people safe, then large and sustained cuts to carbon emissions need to happen now. The time for wishful thinking is over.
d. In March 2021, Tzeporah Berman, chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, argued that the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would be a more genuine and realistic way to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement than the "Net-zero" approach. She claimed the net-zero approach is "delusional and based on bad science."
(The above four statements were found on Wikipedia.)
The current net-zero pledges by the world's top fossil fuel users and producers are telling and sadly funny. If we keep going as we are now, by 2050 - 2070, there will be few, if any, of us left to see if any nation even fulfilled its ridiculously "far too little, far too late" net-zero pledges.
The toothless, unenforceable, and vague net-zero pledges should be seen as nothing more than media bla, bla, bla. They are great theatrics for the pledging nations on the world stage.
The nations loudly promoting their net-zero pledges also helps hide the truth that the world's top 20 carbon emitters have made no commitments to directly and immediately cut their national fossil fuel use!
The correct 2025 targets now need to be enacted to compensate for 50 years of inaction. They will require tremendous sacrifice, suffering, and hardship for all the world's people, industries, and nations. Something no politician is willing to tell us.
These 2025 global targets require that the world's developed nations enforce and come close to a 75% total reduction in ALL global fossil fuel use by 2025. In addition, these 2025 targets include lesser climate justice-adjusted targets for undeveloped countries, which did not play a major role in creating the runaway global heating emergency. These 2025 national fossil fuel reductions of 75% include China and India.
To understand why we have so little time left to fix runaway global heating and more about why government-driven and corporate-driven carbon net-zero programs are so dangerous to your near-term future survival, first read about what happens as we cross the first runaway global heating extinction tipping point in the next 3-9 years.
Click here if you are curious to learn the good news about why near-total extinction and not total extinction is the worse it should ever get.
If you learn best by videos
Here are two funny and informative net-zero and climate conference failure videos that are powerful yet, still underestimate the rapidly approaching near-total extinction dangers we now face:
In summary, "Carbon Net-Zero Pledges Equal Our Near-total Extinction within 3-6 decades"
1. The only thing that can save us from near-total extinction at this 11th hour is getting close to the radical and painful 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets. There is no other workable solution.
Once the public and our politicians realize this they will discard the net-zero emissions salvation delusion. At that point, we finally will be able to control the runaway global warming extinction emergency. Once they understand that radically reducing fossil fuel use is the only remaining thing that will work, they finally will be willing to sacrifice their economies and everything else necessary to save the other half of humanity.
2. When you hear the many different carbon net-zero promises of our national politicians based on carbon offsetting by 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, or 2070, you can be fully assured they are leading us directly to Mutually Assured Climate Extinction (MACE) over the following several decades.
3. Aiming for net-zero carbon using carbon offsets is much like the funny, powerful, and massively shared article by an Australian drinker who promises to get to net-zero alcohol intake by 2050. Click here to see this five short paragraph, highly relevant article that ties together much of what is being said above.
4. Never forget because of our 60 years of ignoring climate change warnings and our ineffective actions, the only thing that will save us now is getting close to the radical and painful 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets. The only way to prevent near-total extinction is to stop doing the thing that's causing our extinction (the filling of our atmosphere with toxic greenhouse gases which cause global heating.)
5. Anyone telling you that the net-zero pledges and net-zero emissions strategies currently being forwarded will work to prevent mass or near-total human extinction is confessing they do not understand the unforgiving basic mathematics of rising greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere and their direct relationship to increasing global temperatures. At the end of this page in the Technical Notes, some of that basic math is explained.
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