Discussion of “net zero” and “carbon neutral” emissions are dominating current environmental news.
16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the new face of climate activism, has made calls for governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. Thunberg and 15 other young activists recently filed a lawsuit against five of the biggest carbon polluters in the world (Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey), on grounds that their failure to adequately reduce emissions violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Additionally, major Canadian federal parties have pledged emission reductions in their election platforms:
- Liberal Party: reduce Canadian emissions to net zero by 2050 with legally binding 5-year emissions targets; halve corporate taxes for zero-emission, clean technology companies; all federal buildings to be powered by clean energy by 2022; 10% rebate on zero-emission vehicles.
- Conservative Party: require investment in private sector research and development of green technology from major emitters producing more than 40 kilotonnes of CO2e per year.
- New Democratic Party: reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada to 450 megatonnes by 2030; provide low-interest loans repayable through energy savings to retrofit all housing stock in Canada; emphasis on low-carbon transit projects; 100% of new vehicles are to be electric by 2040.
- Green Party: double Canada’s emissions reduction target to 60% by 2030; have 100% of Canadian electricity come from renewable sources by 2030; 100% of new vehicles are to be electric by 2030.
But what, exactly, does “net zero emissions” mean? How can you set up your business to achieve it?
Net Zero Emissions will be achieved when any human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are balanced out by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Firstly, emissions should be reduced as close to zero as possible. Remaining emissions should then be counteracted by carbon removal practices, such as reforestation.
The World Resources Institute outlines the following 10 items as key shifts our society needs to undertake to reduce our emissions:
- Phase out coal plants
- Invest in clean energy and efficiency
- Retrofit buildings
- Decarbonize coal, steel, and plastics
- Shift to electric vehicles
- Increase public transportation
- Decarbonize aviation and shipping
- Halt deforestation and restore degraded lands
- Reduce food loss and waste
- Eat more plants and less meat
The most important factor in achieving net zero emissions is the reduction of greenhouse gas output. To achieve this, change needs to happen in policy, technology and human behaviour. Switching the fuel sources that power our lives, our buildings, and our transportation to sustainable options is key.
VCT Group specializes in the design, engineering, and construction of renewable energy projects. Our solar energy net metering projects produce clean power to help offset your emissions and push you closer to net zero targets. VCT Group has installed more than 40,000 solar panels across more than 200 projects. Together with CED Co-op, VCT Group owns and operates a portfolio of solar projects that can power about 1,000 homes and reduces carbon emissions by about 2,000 tonnes every year.
Join the businesses who are already examining how reducing their environmental footprint can also reduce costs. Contact us today to learn more.