The Journey to Net Zero
With all the political knuckle-dragging around sustainable environmental policies that’s been going on over the last century, it’s no wonder the greater public has no idea what to do with the resources we have.
Scientists first sounded the alarm to avoid climate disaster in the early 1900’s; data was starting to show back then that the excessive use of burning fossil fuels like coal and kerosene was poisoning the air, land, and water, and they knew back then that what our society was focusing on was going to cause serious problems in the future.
Well, we’re in the future now and we’re reacting to the problems of the past because we failed to take warnings from the scientific community seriously.
The 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland just concluded a few months ago and leaders from around the world vowed to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050. Yes, it took 26 consecutive years of political leaders flying private jets from around the world to come up with a plan to tackle climate change. While industry plays a big part in contributing to carbon pollution, our homes, cars, and the things we consume play a big role too.
In a newly published report by the City of Penticton (COP), Pentictonites contribute approximately 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year which equals about 7.5 tonnes for every man, woman, and child. 54% of that is created by our vehicles, 33% is created by our buildings and our waste contributes 13%. Since the first Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) was released by the COP in 2011 emissions have increased by 19% and now we need to do a complete about-face to reduce our emissions dramatically.
Are you ready to go Net Zero by 2050? Because the BC NDP wants you to get there sooner and have introduced a “CleanBC Roadmap 2030” which is available for everyone to read online.
In BC the “Zero Emission Vehicles Act'' was passed in 2019 which created legislation that will gradually increase the new vehicle sales targets percentage of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) to 100% by 2035 - five years sooner than initially planned. That means by 2035 all new vehicles will need to be zero-emission. Twenty-or-so years from then there will be virtually no gas-operated vehicles in British Columbia reducing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere every year.
In our homes the “new requirements for all new buildings to be zero carbon and new space and water heating equipment to be highest efficiency by 2030” is only 8 years away. Traditionally “eco-friendly” building solutions have been substantially more expensive in up-front costs for the average homeowner, but thankfully those expenses are starting to come down. To further encourage homeowners to make those smart decisions we now have some financial incentives from municipal and provincial governments to help make those decisions easy. If you want to see
available rebates in our area, go to www.betterhomesbc.ca and use the “Rebate
In the housing industry, our new homes are projected to be Net Zero ready by 2032; for our homes to achieve these targets they will need to be built to sufficient air tightness, have highly efficient heat pumps and on-d
emand hot water tanks, be ready to use renewable energy to power all electrical needs, and have highly efficient windows (or less of them) to meet these standards.
There is always the possibility of municipalities requiring upgrades to meet BC Building C
ode standards whenever a renovation permit is triggered, by 2032 these upgrades may include making your home much more energy efficient than it is.
We do have some justifiably effective methods and products at our disposal already that can really reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses entering our atmosphere.
Today, a family wishing to build a brand-new home to Net Zero standards could have their house framed with local wood, walls formed and finished with Hempcrete, roof insulated with hemp bats, Passive House certified efficient windows, heat pumps (geothermal or electric), on-demand hot
water tanks, and solar/battery arrangement to achieve Net Zero targets. In fact, a home built with this formula could potentially achieve BETTER than Net Zero targets keeping both you and the climate safe.
Once you swap your gas-powered vehicles for ZEV’s, buy as much of your food from local producers as you can, make as many second-hand or sustainable clothing purchasing decisions as possible, and maybe even build a custom Net Zero house or renovate to upgrade energy efficiency; you are well on your way to having a very low carbon footprint and securing a clean, healthy future for all of us.