“Net Zero Carbon” is the gold standard for tackling climate change. But what does “Net Zero” mean? What’s the rush? And, what’s in it for you?
What is Net Zero Carbon?
Net Zero Carbon – also known as carbon neutrality – means that any greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere from human activities are matched by the removal of an equivalent amount of GHGs from the atmosphere. In practical terms, it means reducing CO₂ emissions to as low as possible and then paying for the capture and permanent storage of a volume of emissions equal to the remainder.
Really, How Critical is Net Zero Carbon?
A hotter climate could put us, and the things we love, at risk. Scientists have concluded that global carbon emissions must be net zero no later than 2050 in order to keep the average global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Above this level, there is significant risk that climate warming will have wide-spread, devastating impacts.
Business decision makers around the world are supporting these science-based targets. In May 2020, despite the world’s focus on the Covid-19 pandemic, a coalition of over 150 companies signed a joint statement with the UN Global Compact urging governments to take Net Zero seriously. Signatories include multi-national companies: AstraZeneca; Coca-Cola European Partners; Colgate-Palmolive; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Nestle; Unilever; and Vodafone.
These companies are putting their commitments into action. In 2019, Maple Leaf Foods became the first major food company in the world to become carbon neutral.
Unilever has committed to net zero carbon emissions from their products by 2039, including emissions throughout its entire supply chain up to the point of sale.
Within the last 15 months, the number of commitments made by local governments and business to reach net zero carbon emissions, has roughly doubled.
What Might this Mean for You?
In Canada, the Federal Carbon Tax is set to increase by $15/Tonne each year. The cost to emit a Tonne of CO₂ under this plan, would reach $170 by 2030. The impact on company cost structures would be dramatic – within the range that economists believe is needed to drive emissions to net zero. Provincial programs will be required to match the Federal pace of change.
What’s the Rush?
Those who take early action to curb carbon emissions can choose the most cost-effective combination of reductions and offsets. They will spread carbon reduction investments over a longer time period. They also will more quickly avoid higher utility costs and carbon taxes.
Investors and consumer-facing companies are beginning to use a carbon reduction “lens” for investment and supply-chain decisions. Suppliers to such companies, if they reduce their carbon emissions, can cement their place in the supply chain. There is a risk in postponing action. Playing catch up is never a good strategy, especially if having a credible Net Zero Carbon plan ever becomes a supply chain requirement.
360 Energy’s Net Zero Carbon Program
For over 20 years, 360 Energy has been helping our clients use cost-effective measures to reduce and sustain GHG emissions over time. We can help your company develop a Net Zero Carbon strategy that is practical and achievable.