At this point, it’s likely safe to assume most people who have found their way to this webpage are familiar with the term “net zero.” And it’s probably also a safe bet that the definition of net zero that comes to their minds is, loosely, a state in which greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are balanced out by those removed.
But is it that simple? Is it fair, or true, to summarize such a complex state of equilibrium so succinctly? How should emissions reductions and emissions offsetting be used together in this context? What about terms like “absolute zero” or “net zero aligned” – where do they fit in? When was the last time humans had a net-zero relationship with the atmosphere, and how can we have that again?
In the last episode of our GLF Live mini-series of “climate crash courses” – 15-minute lessons on foundational terms and topics we might have overlooked in our learnings – Kate Dooley, a renowned expert on climate mitigation and land-use, explained this term for us, addressing if and how its real meaning can be achieved.
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Kate Dooley is an interdisciplinary scholar with expertise in climate mitigation and land-use policy. She received her PhD from the University of Melbourne where she is currently a lecturer in climate change politics. Kate has policy expertise on forest carbon accounting and forest governance, and has almost two decades experience in advising government and non-governmental organizations on the intersection of forest governance and climate policy. She has published extensively, including on forest carbon accounting rules; illegal logging and forest governance; human rights and equity; and the role of science in shaping climate mitigation pathways.
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