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‘Net-Zero’ Emissions May Not Be as Green as You Think

‘Net-Zero’ Emissions May Not Be as Green as You Think

‘Undefined’ term reduces political pressure to take real action on climate change and hedges bets on future solutions, says expert.

Beware the term “net-zero emissions.”

A new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report is warning net-zero climate goals distract from meaningful emissions reductions by muddying political accountability.

“The problem with net-zero in Canada is that it’s a really undefined term that gets thrown around a lot. A lot of people like it, and I did as well — it’s got ‘zero’ in it, and we’ve been calling for zero for a long time,” says report author Marc Lee, a senior economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“But after I started exploring the ‘net,’ I saw a lot of loopholes for federal or provincial governments to try to perpetuate business as usual and not commit to the deep emissions reductions that we need to be making to be consistent with climate science,” Lee said.

The federal government has pledged to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, but its wording on what that means is vague. Its website says net zero means Canada’s economy “either emits no greenhouse gas emissions or offsets its emissions, for example, through actions such as tree planting or employing technologies that can capture carbon before it is released into the air.”

During the 2020 election, the BC NDP said it would bring in legislation requiring net-zero emissions by 2050 but has yet to introduce a plan.

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