Written by on April 3, 2023

A twitter post claiming that achieving net zero is impossible is false.

“Net zero is a lot like Covid zero – impossible to achieve, harmful and pointless”, states the claim.

Achieving net zero means releasing no greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Many governments as well as businesses have set goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. When measuring the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s done in terms of CO2-Equivalent. This is the amount of CO2 that would have an equivalent global warming impact as a different greenhouse gas. In the USA, for net zero emissions to be achieved, net emissions have to be reduced by 0.2 Gigatons of CO2-equivalent per year for the next 30 years. To achieve this, they have to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by around 10%.

According to the IPCC sixth assessment report, it is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, so as to avoid the worst climate impacts, global greenhouse gas emissions have to drop by almost half by the year 2030 and ultimately reach net zero.

So far, more than 90 countries have communicated their commitment to reach net zero emissions, and this includes the world’s largest emitters, that is, China, USA and India. The IPCC AR6 Working Group 3 states that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will depend on achieving net zero between 2050 and 2060.

The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2022 finds that the current climate policies that are in place point out that by the end of the century, there will be 2.8 degrees Celsius temperature rise.


In terms of electricity supply, there will be a need for zero carbon sources and will have to supply about 98% to 100% of electricity by the year 2050. This will assist in reducing transportation emissions. According to the International Policy on Climate Change, emissions can also be reduced through reworking dietary choices, improving the efficiency of food production, as well as restoring degraded lands and reducing food loss. This will help in ensuring that 10 billion people can be fed by the year 2050 without increasing emissions.

Most technologies needed to achieve net zero are also currently available, for example, an NREL study shows that in the Western US, using solar and wind to generate 35% of electricity would reduce CO2 emissions by 25-45%. In the same country, wind and solar farms have dominated new power plant builds, for example in 2019, solar (5.3 GW) and wind (9.1 GW) represented 62% of all new generating capacity, compared to 8.3GW natural gas, whereas 14GW of coal-fired capacity was retired.

We looked into this claim stating that achieving net zero is impossible and found it to be false.

This fact-check was produced by Sky 106.1 FM with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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