Carbon neutrality refers to the “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” (cf. Paris Agreement).

It implies defining a vision at a time horizon both far enough to allow ambition, and close enough to allow its translation in operational measures, bearing in mind the lifetime of current decisions. In this vision, each actor should define its place in a carbon-neutral world, depending on its respective constraints, endowments, potentials, and not only (or necessarily) aim for neutrality at their own activities’ level.

Key Messages

Countries interested in reaching carbon neutrality ought to :

  • Urgently act to reach the existing potentials for greenhouse gas emissions’ reduction across sectors, through a combination of technology and behaviour solutions aligned with countries’ development objectives, in order to minimise the level of residual emissions after 2050 and specifically near to zero CO2 net emissions in the energy and the industry sectors;
  • Renew approaches to protect natural carbon sinks by targeting the sectoral drivers mostly linked to natural ecosystem degradation and destruction at land and the sea (unsustainable agriculture and its expansion, deforestation, unsustainable fisheries, coastal planning, etc.) and foster changes in practices inside sectors to protect carbon sinks (e.g., soils in agriculture);
  • Invest in R&D for carbon capture and storage technologies to deal with the residual emissions, as existing sinks and current innovation options are either not a permanent solution or not ready to operate.
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