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Open the Data Dash

Getting to Net Zero Together

A passenger airplane leaves a trail thro
Photographer: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP

We are in the midst of some (hopefully) short-term turmoil in global energy markets. Companies are rightly concerned about ongoing operations in such moments, but many still have their eyes focused on long-term transformation. Several net zero emissions commitments this week — from Australian iron ore producers and cement makersfast food giantspet-food conglomerates and the biggest passenger airlines — point not just to multi-decade intentions, but to the years of hard work that will be required to meet those goals.

These commitments will be a challenge — they are total in scope, meaning they cover all of a group’s emissions, not just power consumption or the emissions from their own processes. This is important because power, in particular, can be provided renewably at either no additional cost or at a lower cost than what most grids provide today. Also, the composition of many emissions are heavily skewed towards what we refer to as ‘hard-to-abate’ processes where energy density, biology, chemistry, and even safety and reliability are elemental concerns.