The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, marked a historic milestone in the fight against climate change. This international agreement -also known as the “Net Zero” Agreement- aims to limit the increase in global temperature to 2°C (and strive not to exceed 1.5°C) compared to levels prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, entities that commit to achieving net zero emissions must reduce to “Zero” the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) they emit into the atmosphere. This requires progress in decarbonization, that is, the replacement of carbon-based energy sources.

Below, we will explore some of the specific actions that governments of first world countries have taken to meet the goal of “Net Zero” by the year 2050:

1) Transition towards zero emissions energies:
• Germany: Has invested significantly in solar and wind energy. Its goal is to gradually eliminate the use of coal and nuclear energy.
• United Kingdom: Has committed to closing all coal-fired power plants by 2024 and proportionally increasing electricity generation from renewable sources.
• Denmark: It is a global leader in electricity generation from offshore wind sources and aims to be 100% renewable by 2050.

2) Zero emissions mobility:
• Norway: Actively promotes electric vehicles and aims to eliminate diesel and gasoline-powered cars by 2025. It also has the highest percentage of all countries in the world in the use of heat pumps, with approximately 60% of the total number of homes in the country.
• Netherlands: Investing in bicycle road infrastructure and efficient public transport; as an incentive to its citizens to use their vehicles as little as possible to get to work. This will surely significantly influence the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

3) Energy efficiency in buildings:
• France: Has implemented regulations to improve energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. Likewise, it has established new laws to require the installation of Photovoltaic Solar Panels on the roofs of parking lots, starting from a certain number of square meters.
• Sweden: Offers tax incentives for building renovation, using new materials to increase thermal insulation; as well as high-efficiency heating equipment, based on Solid Fuels (e.g.: Wood, Pellets and all forms of Biomass). Likewise, the replacement of Gas-based Boilers with Hydronic Systems based on Heat Pumps.

4) Reforestation and forest conservation:
• Finland: Investment in reforestation and forest protection to capture carbon has increased.
• Canada: Has committed to planting billions of trees to combat deforestation. Its electrical energy generation system is more than 90% of hydroelectric origin.

5) Technological innovation and industrial decarburization:
• Switzerland: Is investing in carbon capture and storage technologies. Like Canada, its electrical energy generation system is more than 90% hydroelectric.
• Japan: Seeks to reduce emissions in key industrial sectors such as steel and cement.

6) Financial support to developing countries:
• First world countries have promised to finance greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation projects; as well as adaptation to renewable energies in developing nations to help them meet their climate objectives.

In addition to the actions described above, below we will address the issue regarding the obligatory question: In what approximate percentage would influence -on the consumption of fossil fuels worldwide- the massive substitution of the current Heating and Air Conditioning equipment, for new technology equipment that offer high efficiency and therefore a much lower consumption of fossil fuels or electricity generated from such fuels, such as: Solid Fuel Boilers and Heat Pumps ...(?).

The massive replacement of heating and air conditioning equipment, with more efficient technologies, could have a significant impact on reducing fossil fuel consumption globally. Let's see how new technologies could influence:

7) Heat Pumps:
• Heat pumps are air conditioning systems that take advantage of energy from the environment (such as air or soil) to heat or cool spaces inside homes. They work similarly to a Heating/Ventilation and Air/Conditioning (HVAC) unit, but as a single unit or equipment.

8) Positive influence:
• Heat pumps are highly efficient. For every unit of electricity, they consume, they can generate between 3 to 4 times more units of heat or cold.
• By reducing electricity consumption by 30% to 40% and consequently the need for fossil fuels for heating and cooling, hydronic systems based on heat pumps, contribute very significantly to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

9) Percentage of influence:
• At a global level, if all heating/ventilation and air/conditioning (HVAC) systems were replaced with hydronic systems based on heat pumps, we could expect a reduction in the global fossil fuel consumption, in the range of 10% to 20% of the current consumption level.

10) Solid Fuel Boilers:
• Boilers that use solid fuels (such as firewood, pellets or briquettes) are a more sustainable alternative to gas or oil boilers. The technologies currently available in the global market allow heating efficiencies in the order of 90% to be obtained.

11) Positive influence:
• By using renewable fuels, obtained locally, dependence on imported fossil fuels is reduced.
• Solid fuel boilers can be highly efficient if they are applied correctly.

12) Percentage of influence:
• Although their mass adoption may not be as high as that of heat pumps, solid fuel boilers could contribute to a further decrease in global fossil fuel consumption, in the range of 5% to 10% of the level of current consumption.

In summary, first world governments are taking concrete steps to achieve “Net Zero” by 2050. However, more ambitious and coordinated action is needed at a global level to confront the climate emergency and ensure a better future for generations to come. Therefore, it is crucial that governments, companies and individuals work together to promote these solutions and thus accelerate the transition towards zero emissions energies for the benefit of all the inhabitants of our planet, without distinction of social and economic class.

At this point, it is more than obvious that, if current heating equipment based on fossil fuels were widely replaced by those with new high and very high efficiency technologies, based on zero emissions fuels, we could achieve a global reduction significantly, in the use of fossil fuels and thus move towards a much better future.