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Carbon neutrality does not mean the complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the European Parliament's definition, carbon neutrality is "the balance between carbon emissions and the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by carbon sinks".
The scale of the challenge is therefore clear. It imposes drastic reductions in anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), particularly in the energy production and consumption sectors, as well as the deployment of solutions for removing carbon from the atmosphere. Maximizing natural carbon sinks (including reforestation and sustainable land use) and the use of innovative technologies can help.
To achieve this, rapid and far-reaching transitions are needed in all key components of the economic system: energy, industry, buildings, transport and land use. Not to mention in our lifestyles, by reducing our own personal carbon footprint.
The European Union has set itself a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The National Low-Carbon Strategy (Stratégie Nationale Bas Carbone - SNBC) is France's roadmap to combat climate change. It involves several actions:
- Completely decarbonize energy production by 2050: biomass resources, geothermal energy, heat pumps, carbon-free electricity (nuclear & renewables);
- Reduce energy consumption in all sectors, by strengthening energy efficiency and becoming more modest in our consumption patterns, without loss of comfort;
- Reduce emissions unrelated to energy consumption, for example from agriculture and industrial processes;
- Increase carbon sinks (natural and technological) to absorb residual incompressible emissions by 2050, while developing biomass production.
Calculating the carbon footprint makes it possible to assess the amount of anthropogenic CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. We obtain an estimate of this quantity in kilograms of CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq). Carrying out a carbon assessment makes it possible to analyze which activities are the most polluting and thus put in place appropriate actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is important to make the calculation across the entire life cycle of a product.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is counting heavily on CO2 capture and storage. It estimates, in its optimistic scenario where the warming of the planet is limited to 2 °C by 2100, that this technique could contribute up to 14% to the global reduction of CO2 emissions coming from fossil origin by 2060. This is notable, but not sufficient; hence the need to develop low-carbon energy sources and also energy efficiency.
To find out more, visit : Club CO2 - How to capture CO2 ? (club-co2.fr)