Unit 1: What is Net Zero?
You might already be familiar with the term ‘climate change’ and the urgency and state of concern that is there surrounding the world regarding the climate crisis. In pairs, discuss what you think ‘climate change’ means and the effect it has on our daily lives. What do you think the picture below represents?
Climate change describes a change in the average conditions – such as temperature and rainfall – in a region over a long period of time. NASA scientists have observed the earth’s surface warming, and many of the warmest years on record have happened in the last 20 years. (Taken from climatekids.nasa.gov)
In the picture above, each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. The blue stripes indicate years where the temperature was cooler than the average, whereas the red stripes indicate years where the temperature was hotter than average. As can be clearly seen in the picture, the more recent years demonstrate a sharp rise in temperatures at an alarmingly rapid rate. The climate or warming stripes were created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018, and can be used as a starting point for discussions related to climate change.
While the situation is serious and seems scary, there is hope! We CAN fix it. This is where the term ‘NetZero’ comes in. Discuss what you think ‘NetZero’ means and where you might have heard of it before.
There are considered to be hundreds of different definitions of NetZero being used across the world. For the purposes of this programme we will consider these 2:
United Nations Definition: Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance (Taken from un.org)
UK Definition: Net zero means that the UK’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be equal to or less than the emissions the UK removed from the environment. This can be achieved by a combination of emission reduction and emission removal. (Taken from ons.gov.uk)
To get a better understanding of NetZero and the role you can play, we will be using the analogy of a tube map for this course. Through the course, we will explore different paths, or tube lines, that will help us get to NetZero. Each tube line will signify a different aspect; for example, the Red Line can signify what the government hopes to achieve, whereas the Green Line can depict what you can do as an individual.
Part 1: Kahoot Quiz
Before proceeding, let’s check our understanding of sustainability, climate change, and NetZero through a quiz! Follow the link to the Kahoot quiz and take it as a team together.
Part 2: Reflect & Discuss
Governments around the world have set targets to become NetZero over the next two decades. To understand why this is an urgent and important step, look at the following pictures and answer the reflection questions below for each of them.
In your groups, discuss the following questions:
- What can you see in the picture?
- What environmental problem do you think the picture depicts? Why has it become a pressing concern over the last few years?
As can be seen in the pictures, the effects of climate change and rising temperatures can be felt across London and in all aspects of our lives. From the flash floods in 2021, to consistently decreasing air quality, and the recent energy crisis, reports show that London needs to take urgent measures to limit the effects of climate change.
Over the next few years, the world has to work towards reducing carbon emissions to almost zero, while ensuring that the remaining emissions are absorbed through forests and other carbon sinks. To be able to limit heating to 1.5°C, we need to halve all global emissions by 2030.
While this may seem like an ambitious goal, a lot of people around the world are working towards reaching this target. The UK government has a target of being NetZero by 2050, while London has taken this a step further and is aiming to be NetZero by 2030.
To know more about what the government is hoping to change over the next few years to meet the 2030 goal, click on the link below which will outline some examples related to the four key areas.
Part 3: Research
In your groups, research and discuss what other changes the government in London is doing to reach this goal. As you’re doing this, fill out the Red Line in your tube map with milestones that the government hopes to achieve by 2030.