Net Zero is not enough

Blog from Stuart Hayward-Higham, Technical Development Director for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK

As we all grapple with recovery from the COVID pandemic, with the historic and future financial strains and with climate change, carbon reduction and working on plans for, or delivering on commitments in net zero plans, it is perhaps easy to think that we have ‘enough on our plate already’ and seek not to widen our focus. On climate change we need to do lots more well before 2050. Even if we reach the Paris Accord goal of net zero by 2050, it won’t change the fact that global temperatures are already 1C warmer than the last century. Every year we witness more frequent and extreme climate events: catastrophic flooding, faster coastal erosion, extreme droughts and water shortages, devastating wildfires, and potentially permanent damage to habitats, plants, and wildlife and these events are likely to increase if temperatures continue to rise.

However, on resource consumption, we continue to see consumption rates somewhere between two and three world equivalents, easily and understandably unsustainable. Further, and more worryingly, we see trends that suggest resource consumption is increasing faster than population growth and GDP.