A new report published this week by the international charity Oxfam https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/621205/bp-net-zero-land-food-equity-030821-en.pdf says governments and companies are “hiding behind unreliable, unproven and unrealistic carbon removal schemes” in order to hit targets. Although global attempts are being made to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the charity claims net zero targets are often a “greenwashing exercise”.
Net zero means any emissions that can’t be stemmed by clean technology in 2050 will either be buried using carbon capture and storage, or soaked up by trees, plants and soils.
Oxfam says that reaching net zero will also mean phasing out the internal combustion engine and dramatically increasing renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, while decreasing fossil fuel pollution.
Nafkote Dabi, climate policy lead at Oxfam and co-author of the report, told the BBC that there is only 350 million hectares of land that can be used globally for afforestation (planting trees to make a forest) and carbon removal, without compromising food security. Oxfam calculated that the total amount of land required for planned carbon removal could be five times the size of India, or the equivalent of the entire world’s farmland.
The charity analysed the net zero targets of four of the largest oil and gas producers: Shell, BP, Total Energies and ENI. The researchers found that their net zero plans alone could require an area of land twice the size of the UK.
“It’s really worrying that only four companies could use so much of the remaining land available for the world,” Ms Dabi explained.
“If all energy sectors follow the same plan, they would require 500 million hectares of land, which means worsening existing hunger issues in the global south.”
BBC News reports that a number of large oil and gas firms, such as Sinopec, ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco, have not yet made a net zero pledge.
For additional material including the responses by the oil companies go to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58079101