EXPLAINER: What is 'net zero' and why does it matter?

(Reuters, 26 Nov 2021) A growing number of countries, cities and companies are aiming for 'net zero' emissions to meet climate goals - but that will require huge changes in how we live, work and play.

As shoppers dusted off their credit cards in anticipation of juicy Black Friday discounts this week, one study calculated their online purchases could release about 386,243 tonnes of carbon emissions, mainly from parcel deliveries.

That is equal to more than 215 flights taken between London and Sydney in just 24 hours, and roughly the same weight as 3,679 blue whales, said the report from money.co.uk, a UK-based personal finance website. 

The amount of online Black Friday purchases and associated carbon emissions are expected to be about 10% lower this year than during the peak pandemic lockdown period in 2020. But annual spending on Black Friday, while cheaper for consumers, comes with a significant cost to the planet, analysts say.

This is clearly at odds with the rising trend of stronger action to curb climate change. A separate report this week from the Net Zero Tracker initiative found net-zero emissions goals set by national governments now cover 90% of global gross domestic product and 88% of emissions.

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Reuters, 26 Nov 2021: EXPLAINER: What is 'net zero' and why does it matter?