I’m really confused about the meaning of “NET ZERO” when it comes to describing what Sooke is trying to achieve by 2050. We have been told that to meet this goal we, along with the rest of Canada, will have to reduce our existing greenhouse gas (or GHG) emissions by at least 40% to put us back in line with the rest of the world.
Is that possible? Yes, but the changes we face will seem like an attack on our very affluent lifestyles.
The other use of “NET ZERO” emissions seems to be equal to saying “No further emissions above what we currently have.” This is also a problem for us as it really means that for every new development Sooke builds we have to reduce current emissions by the same amount as the new development would create in order to achieve this “NET ZERO” emissions community that Sooke purports to be in the last District of Sooke Survey published in the local newspaper.
Can we do this? Yes, but again the ways in which we can reduce existing emissions will not be comfortable or even possible for many households.
In simplest terms, if our population is to rise by about 3% per year then it makes sense to think that overall carbon emissions will also rise by 3% per year. To allow this to happen means that we have to reduce other emissions by 3% per year to balance the new emissions to a “NET ZERO.”
Actual reductions in existing greenhouse gas emissions can occur if we stated building with “hempcrete,” the only material for building which has a “negative carbon” footprint — that is, it actually pulls carbon dioxide OUT of the air.
Alternately, we could stop using fossil fuels and replace oil, natural gas, and propane with renewable energy from the sun and energy-efficient heat pumps. As the price of gas for cars skyrockets we can replace those old “gas guzzler’s” with electric vehicles and save ourselves thousands of dollars in fuel and service costs each year while we reduce our emissions to zero. If we work from home and don’t commute, or join a carpool to commute, or use the bus, we reduce the total number of trips to and from Victoria (which now stands at around 17,000 per day) and we will see an actual reduction in GHG’s.
All of these moves together will THEN allow Sooke to continue to develop new housing and building without increasing the balance of emissions emitted, and only THEN the District of Sooke can call itself (under this definition) a NET ZERO community.
(Hempcrete image credit: By Olivier DUPORT – Atelier du Chanvre, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/)