What do we mean by net zero? Our various daily activities in a modern world has helped create an imbalance between the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) released into the atmosphere and the amount of carbon that can be absorbed by the air around us. Prime examples of this are:
1. Coal and natural gas fired plants
2. Gas powered automobiles
3. Individual and multi-unit residential buildings
4. Manufactuing industry and other commercial properties
5. Hundreds of thousands of land fill sites, across the world (both private and public, and closed and open)
6. Environmentally unsound deforesting
7. Agricultural production, both animal and plant based
Each of these situations generates on an annual basis trillions and trillions of harmful GHG litres of gases globally, both CO2 and Methane.
This has resulted in a net accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere, that the earth cannot absorb. This causes warming of our planet and driving human created climate change, leading to possible permanent changes to our environment, and increasing severe and unpredictable weather events. This costs lives, lively-hoods and trillions and trillions of dollars annually in recovery efforts, only to be hit with the same or worse situation the future.
Video Credit NASA JPL-Caltech
To help mitigate this environmental catastrophe we need to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible to zero. In the case of Ontario, we need to reduce, or better yet, eliminate our consumption of gasoline, by fuel switching from gas to electricity and shifting to clean/green technologies such as solar, biomass, and geothermal.
For affordable housing stock across Ontario we can also decrease our energy consumption, by becoming energy efficient, by replacing aging windows and doors with Energy Star double and triple pane windows and energy efficient doors, and adding air-source heat pumps, where appropriate. In the long run, this means that energy costs will be substantially reduced, saving tenants and/or their non-profit housing from wasted finances on old GHG creating technologies.
In short, we need to plug or eliminate energy leaks and shift to alternative clean/green technologies that don’t create harmful GHGs, saving both energy and the environment, while reducing energy costs.
We are at a critical juncture in needing to restore the earth’s delicately balanced carbon cycle. We all need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem! Moving to net zero is the best way we can contribute to a healthy and sustainable planet for all of us -now, and long into the future.