The term ‘net’ emissions refers to the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere minus the amount that has been removed from the atmosphere (through, for example, sequestration).
Technologies to reduce emissions include new and renewable forms of energy that do not use fossil fuel, such as wind, solar and biofuels.
Energy efficiency can reduce demand for fossil-fuel generated energy to also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
Enhancing the removal of carbon from the atmosphere can be achieved through increasing carbon sinks; for example, increasing the planting of trees and decreasing deforestation, or through capturing carbon dioxide at the source of large emissions (such as power stations) and storing it underground.
Adapting to climate change
Adaptation, or ‘climate-proofing’, involves preparing for climate change.
Adaptation activities aim to reduce negative impacts and take advantage of any opportunities by planning ahead.
For example, adapting to a drier climate can be achieved by reducing water demand through water restrictions and incentives, or by increasing water supply through desalination, increased recycling, or using water tanks.
Options for adapting to sea-level rise include sea walls, natural vegetation buffer zones, and changing building codes.
Agriculture can adapt by changing crop varieties and farming practices. We can help biodiversity adapt by creating migration corridors or reducing other pressures on the environment.
Adaptation is already occurring, and industrialised countries such as Australia have a high capacity to adapt.
However, there are barriers to adaptation, such as limited availability of local climate information at the scale decisions are made, limited integration of different levels of governance, and different attitudes towards risk management.