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Net Zero Emissions and Canadian Businesses

Please welcome Brody Bell, the creator of this month’s blog about Canada’s Net-Zero Emissions goals and the role of businesses.

The Importance of Net-Zero Emissions

Net-Zero Emissions can be defined as achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere. Over 120 countries, including Canada, have committed to achieving Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. Approximately 768 businesses also agreed to reach the same goal by 2050. This is an important goal, as it was determined that the planet must become Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 to keep the increase in Earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and reach the 1.5 degree Celsius target that has been agreed upon by scientists as the livable threshold. Achieving Net-Zero Emissions requires collective action, including the private sector. Companies operating in Canada have an essential role to play in helping the country achieve Net-Zero Emissions by 2050, and working towards this goal often benefits businesses in a variety of ways including: reduced production & manufacturing costs, enhanced customer loyalty, improved employee recruitment and retention, increased innovation, strengthened risk management and return on investments.

Emissions in Canada

In Canada, the three largest sources of emissions include buildings, energy and transportation which account for 82% of emissions. These areas represent opportunities for businesses to implement Net-Zero Emissions strategies and align themselves with the federal government’s strategies.

In Canada, buildings are responsible for producing 13% of our national emissions, with most coming from space and water heating. To help reduce emissions from this sector, the Canadian federal government is developing a building code with the provinces and territories with the goal of requiring all new buildings to be built “net-zero energy ready” by 2030. Additionally, the federal government is developing a code for existing buildings that will guide improvements during renovations to increase energy efficiency.

Currently, the stationary combustion sources of energy accounted for 45% of Canada’s emissions, identifying a need for innovation and change. One policy that has been implemented to address these emissions is a federal regulation requiring the oil and gas sector to reduce methane emissions by 40-45% below 2012 levels by 2025. During this energy transition, industry leaders predict these policies will lead to increased energy prices in the future both for the public and businesses. Energy will be key to reaching national Net-Zero Emissions targets.

The federal government also aims to tackle the emissions from the transportation sector that account for 24% of national emissions with a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035. Additionally, businesses will see increases in transportation related costs as fuel and maintenance prices rise. Statistics Canada shows increased prices in all major sectors including transportation at 8.3% for the start of 2022.

Business Action

To take action now, businesses need to develop and implement credible and effective plans to transition their facilities and operations to Net-Zero Emissions. This involves first identifying your emission source activities and calculating each activity’s greenhouse gas emissions. Next, a base year reference is established, and informed targets are created with steps to achieve these targets.

Knowledge is the first step, and businesses must become aware of the challenges they face and potential solutions they can implement. Best practices and the latest in technology related to Net-Zero Emissions will be explored further at the Sustainable Business Expo 2022 (SBX22). The event will be an opportunity to learn more about Net-Zero Emissions, and join other sustainability-minded business professionals from across Southern Ontario in taking sustainable action. 

Sustainability Leadership is a non-profit, social enterprise dedicated to empowering businesses to act and participate in creating a more sustainable future for their organisation, and for our communities. Our organisation accomplishes this through our membership program, events, learning content and digital resources. For more information, please visit www.sustainabilityleadership.ca.