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The Climate Question, BBC


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Civics, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Podcasts, 27 minutes, 18 seconds

Regional Focus

Global, Africa

What Does "Net Zero" Really Mean?

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  • Almost everyone has heard of the term net zero, but do you know what it really means? In this podcast, the presenters investigate the true meaning of "net zero" and why this term has recently become so popular with politicians.
  • Listeners will learn about the positives and negatives of net zero pledges and if this focus on net zero emissions can actually help reverse climate change.
Teaching Tips


  • Students can learn about the challenges of inciting measurable action for climate policies, and holding politicians accountable for their commitments to the climate.
  • This podcast provides the unique perspectives of citizens in South Africa, where the president has pledged to achieve net zero by 2050, despite the country's dependence on coal mining.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The podcast switches to climate news at 21:17.
  • This podcast mentions the IPCC. Before listening, it may be helpful for students to already have some knowledge of the IPCC and some history of international climate agreements.


  • Students in government or civics classes can listen to this podcast to learn more about the dynamics of climate and politics and the impacts of proposed policies in international affairs.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made with English Language Arts classes, where students can write a persuasive essay arguing for or against the effectiveness of world leaders making net zero emissions pledges.
  • Resources related to this topic include this course on climate politics, this interactive simulation for climate policies, and this video about net zero targets.
Scientist Notes
The idea of net zero and its significance in decarbonizing the earth are introduced in the podcast. Keeping track of the obligations made by the various nations is crucial because they differ from one another. Policy and decision makers would be guided by climate scientist predictions about the best way to get to net zero. In order to achieve net zero, it is crucial to act scientifically rather than politically. This resource is perfect for the classroom.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking and Listening (K-12)
      • SL.9-12.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
  • Social Studies
    • Civics & Government
      • Civics & Government 1 (D1): Students understand the ideals, purposes, principles, structures, and processes of constitutional government in the United States and in the American political system, as well as examples of other forms of government and political systems in the world by evaluating and comparing the relationship of citizens with government in the United States and other regions of the world.
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