Finland has recently set what looks to be the world’s most ambitious climate target, with a legally binding goal of reaching net-zero and carbon negative by 2035. If achieved, the plan will beat the rest of the developed countries who have pledged similar targets, with the agreed date of 2050 for net zero.
Net-zero aims to completely balance carbon emissions with removal, resulting in greenhouse stability and no carbon footprint. Achieving a net-zero result depends on the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the ‘net worth’ of the green alternatives which balance it out. Geothermal, wind, solar photovoltaics and other forms of green energy help to reach this goal, although these forms of technology still produce some by-products. A complete net-zero plan relies on the introduction of ‘carbon suck’ initiatives and technologies, including planting forests and wetlands, which are natural carbon scrubs that help clean up the oxygen content of the atmosphere. Other alternatives include sequestering carbon in the soil, storing it as carbon charcoal, and changing the terrestrial weather conditions to change the composition of CO2 chemically.
Finland is innovating, adding to the number of solutions by using an underground industrial heat pump in Turku to extract energy from the city’s waste. If successful, the initiative, among others, could help Turku become the world’s first carbon-neutral city.
The objective for Finland, based on an independent analysis of Finland’s current carbon output, looks achievable, at least on paper. Whatever the result, the situation is quite clear — this is still the deciding decade for climate change. Achieving net-zero by 2035, let alone 2050, will mean we’re making changes in a world which have already passed the crisis point.
So the sooner we can reverse the process, by whatever means, the better.
Sources: Big Think, Earthly Education, The Guardian, Green Matters, World Economic Forum, Climate Home News
About the author - meet Earthan James McCulloch
James is a literary student and environmental enthusiast who likes thinking about the better futures we could have (and those we best avoid). When not playing with other people’s dogs or taking long, mindful walks, he’s usually found reading and writing, often at the local library. You can check him out on his blog for something a little different, where he talks about all things literary or otherwise.