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Greenhouse gas neutrality and decarbonisation

The 2-degree goal is an important target of the climate protection policy. If the average global temperature increases beyond this threshold, the consequences for our planet will be disastrous. To prevent this situation, we must “decarbonise” our lives and switch to a lower-emission, more environmentally friendly economic structure.

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The zero-emissions target

The 2-degree goal is an important target of the climate protection policy. If the average global temperature increases beyond this threshold, the consequences for our planet will be disastrous. To prevent this situation, we must “decarbonise” our lives and switch to a lower-emission, more environmentally friendly economic structure. By signing the Paris Agreement, the international community set a further key climate objective to make this vision a reality, and achieve greenhouse gas neutrality from 2050. This goal is referred to as the greenhouse gas neutrality objective or the zero-emissions objective.

“Neutral” does not mean “zero”

Greenhouse gas neutrality does not mean that all greenhouse gas emissions generated by the human population must be reduced to zero. In fact, in some areas – such as agriculture – this would be technologically impossible. In other sectors, the effort and expense required would be disproportionate to the goal. For these reasons, the Paris Agreement stipulates that unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions should be captured and removed from the atmosphere by carbon sinks. These “carbon dioxide removal” (CDR) processes rely on two different types of sinks:

  • Natural sinks created, for example, by expanding forested areas to store CO2
  • Technical sinks called negative emission technologies such as carbon capture and utilization (CCU) and carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Significant economic impact

Virtually all economic sectors will be affected by the greenhouse gas neutrality objective. In some sectors, climate policy will have an enormous impact on current business models – operators of power plants using fossil fuels, for example, or those active in coal mining or oil and natural gas extraction. Other areas will see at least some of the systems and technologies they use today rendered obsolete. Small and medium-sized companies will be affected just as much as larger organisations.

Billions required for investment

All sectors affected will need to invest heavily to decarbonise their activities, to fund new technologies, energy-efficient production processes and climate-compatible products. Measures to capture unavoidable greenhouse gases also come at a cost. Experts estimate that over 100 billion US dollars will need to be invested by 2030 to finance global measures to meet the 2-degree goal. According to a study by the Federation of German Industries (BDI), up to an additional 2.3 billion euros of investment will be required to meet the long-term 2050 climate protection goals.

By balancing emissions using a combination of natural and technological capturing methods from 2050.

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Will need to be invested in Germany to meet the climate protection goals by 2050

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