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Climate Change Bugs

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Beyond the costs and abysmal tasks ahead, there are some extra challenges posed by the lack of a common understanding or vocabulary around the problem of how to address climate change.

As Lucas Joppa, Microsoft's Chief Environmental Officer, called them in his TED Talk "How to fix the 'bugs' in the net zero-code," there are some significant errors or 'bugs' in our world's carbon-neutrality program.

The three main bugs

The first issue is agreeing on an ordinary meaning for "Net-Zero": no emission, "avoided offset," or "removed offset"?

  • No emission: not releasing GHG to the atmosphere.

  • Avoidance offsets: pay someone else not to emit CO2.

  • Removed offset: pay someone to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The second issue is the lack of a standard unit of measurement to assess the climate impact of any activities (precisely, the way we do or don't measure different offsets) performed in any net-zero approach. For more about this issue, I recommend reading Bill Gates' book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster", particularly the sections concerning calculating the 'green premium.'

Third, we are also failing with the pace required to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. CO2 neutrality and carbon reduction solutions are not being deployed at the necessary speed and scale. Still equally alarming, the global emissions reduction markets that the world will need to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 are not there yet, and as of today, these targets will likely be missed.

Luckily, solutions to all of the above are still possible. I will let you watch the video to find the 4-point solution plan that Mr. Joppa describes, and you could also read this post concerning the global tracking of carbon emissions.


"Not all offsets are created equal."

Lucas Joppa - Microsoft Chief Environmental Officer


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