Net Zero by 2050: Technology for a Changing Climate

Book. Net Zero by 2050: Technology for a Changing Climate

Ordering Information

This book is still under development. The information provided here is taken from the latest version.


The phrase ‘Net Zero by 2050’ has been adopted by many organizations: governments, companies and non-profits. It means that the organization in question aims to have net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2050.It also describes the technologies that are used to achieve this difficult goal.

The emphasis throughout the book is on what can be realistically achieved, given short amount of time available and the huge investments of time, money and resources that will be required. For this reason each chapter includes a section entitled ‘Realities’. Each chapter also includes an assessment of that technology’s status using a simple Phase-Gate diagram.

The book is organized into the following eighteen chapters.

Chapter 1: Net Zero

Th first chapter describes the concept of ‘Net Zero’ — what it is and why it matters.

Governments around the world are failing to meet the ambitious goals that they have set for themselves. However, the situation does provide an opportunity for companies, including those in the energy and process industries, to provide much-needed leadership.

The chapter shows that climate change is not an isolated issue — it links in complex ways to many other issues, including resource depletion, population increase and excess debt.

The chapter describes the structure of this book. Each chapter provides a detailed description of an energy technology, or of means of mitigating the effects of climate change. It also provides an introduction to the ‘Path Forward’ — a topic that is described in greater detail in Chapter 18.

Chapter 2: Disruptive Technologies

None of the technologies described in this book “solve” the problem of climate change. At best they slow down the pace of change or mitigate the impacts. This chapter shows provides examples of responses that are good in principle, but that took a long time to implement. The chapter also discusses the “carbon pulse” — the fact that implementing new technologies on a world-wide scale will require the use of immense amounts of fossil fuels, which will add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. If we are to come up with effective responses, we must face these realities.

There is, however, the possibility of a disruptive technology that “changes everything”. By definition, it is not possible to define such technologies ahead of time. However, whatever it is it will have to be one that does not use fossil fuel energy.

Chapter 3: Alternative Energy

This chapter provides an overview of some of the alternative sources of energy that are being developed and implemented.

Chapter 4: Biofuels

Chapter 7: Hydrogen

Chapter 8: Ammonia

Chapter 9: Nuclear

Chapter 10: Hydroelectric

Chapter 11: Geothermal

Chapter 12: Ocean Energy

Chapter 13: Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Chapter 14: Geoengineering

If our efforts to contain global warming are ineffective there will be increased interest in efforts to contain the damage. One of these efforts — carbon capture and sequestration — is already being applied on a small scale. Other options, such as putting reflectors in space, could have many unanticipated consequences. They also raise profound social and ethical concerns.

Chapter 15: Energy Storage

Chapter 16: Transportation

Chapter 17: The Path Forward

There are no easy answers to the climate change dilemma. Indeed, there may be no effective answers at all. We are entering a new world. We cannot return to the early 1950s — that world is in the rearview mirror. However, we must do our best to find ways of slowing down climate change and minimizing its impacts. This chapter provides some suggestions as to how individuals and organizations can respond.

Chapter 18: The Net Zero Professional

This final chapter provides some thoughts as to how individuals can adopt a career path for a rapidly changing world.

Author: Ian Sutton


  1. Net Zero
  2. Disruptive Technologies
  3. Alternative Energy
  4. Biofuels
  5. Solar
  6. Wind
  7. Hydrogen
  8. Ammonia
  9. Nuclear
  10. Hydroelectric
  11. Geothermal
  12. Ocean Energy 
  13. Carbon Capture and Sequestration
  14. Geoengineering
  15. Energy Storage
  16. Transportation
  17. The Path Forward
  18. The Net Zero Professional