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The Road To Carbon Neutrality - Upcoming Carbon Neutrality Commitments Study

The Bay Area firm Environmental Science Associates is initiating an analysis of the current state of US commitments to carbon neutrality. Numerous states, and now the federal government, as well as local and regional governments and private sector organizations, have made commitments to achieve some form of carbon neutrality over the next few decades. And the recent COP 26 UN Summit on Climate Change underscored the critical need to understand and assess such commitments both individually and in the aggregate.

As climate change impacts become more undeniable and severe, the imperative to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rises to the forefront. The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report clearly underscores the urgency in which this must be achieved. “The report… finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5° C or even 2° C will be beyond reach.”

So, what does this mean? Scientists predict that reaching this level of warming will have irreversible widespread effects across the globe. These include intense rainfall and flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions, continued sea level rise and coastal erosion, the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, ocean acidification and reduced oxygen levels affecting ocean ecosystems and those that rely on them, and increased heat in many cities and urban areas.  While these impacts are already occurring, the science indicates they will continue to get more severe.

What is being done now?

Numerous states, and now the federal government, have made commitments to achieve some form of carbon neutrality over the next few decades. California is demonstrating leadership, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2045. Local and regional governments, as well as private sector organizations have also begun making similar commitments. This is certainly promising as a coordinated and widespread approach will be critical to any form of success.

As we work towards this future, the road to carbon neutrality must include strategies that address all aspects of our economy – from building, transportation, and land use planning to private corporations, government agencies, and more. In the coming months we will examine many different aspects of carbon neutrality, discussing challenges and solutions. Next up will be the nuances of carbon neutral commitments by corporations and governments, and we’ll take a deep dive into science-based targets, as well as the social cost of carbon. Stay tuned!


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