The different approaches being employed are counter-productive
Net-zero carbon is an admirable goal, and there's cause to be hopeful at the concerted effort across nations to meet it as climate legislation becomes law at an increasingly urgent rate. Yet care should be given to how the net-zero aim is achieved, considering its components. First, there is cutting emissions, the more widely recognised goal in regard to climate change publicity. Attention has been given to reducing our individual carbon-footprint by traveling less, saving electricity, and being conscious of where we get our food. This is beneficial as long as it can occur on an industrial scale too. Then there’s Negative Emission Technologies, which are a more complicated element to the emissions discussion. The reason that these are essential to net-zero is that cutting emissions alone will not prevent global warming. Even if emissions were reduced to zero, there would still be residual greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and NETS would need to take out 10 billion metric tonnes a year in order to meet current targets. Yet NETs also pose unique issues. They might help store excess carbon dioxide in forests, soils, or geological reserves, but these risk leaking back into the atmosphere and may have other ill effects on the environment. Then there’s the risk of the technologies being used as an excuse to delay emission cuts- there’s a possible economic incentive to deal with residual emissions later when NETs will be more developed and cheaper. But we cannot afford to be complacent about the current situation- and the extent of the technologies’ applicability is very much speculative, rather than palpable. Rather than counting on them, we should try to meet separate targets for reducing emissions and for taking them out of the atmosphere. Besides, the former poses its own challenges.