If sustainability was the buzz word of the mid-to-late 2000s than carbon neutral has become the buzz word of the 2010s and 2020s. Everything and everyone wants to be carbon neutral, just like everything and everyone wanted to be sustainable. And to be fair, carbon neutrality is likely the true sustainability. But, what does Carbon Neutral even mean?
Carbon Neutral is defined as pertaining to or having achieved a state in which the net amount of carbon dioxide or other carbon compounds emitted into the atmosphere is reduced to zero because it is balanced by actions to reduce or offset these emissions.
Everyone from Whole Foods to the World Cup of soccer are doing things to offset their carbon footprint in order to move towards carbon neutrality.
What is carbon and who is releasing it?
At its most basic, carbon is what we humans release into the atmosphere simply by existing. Starting from how we breath we exhale carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen, to how we heat our homes. Almost every activity you do releases carbon into the environment, even cave men 4,000 years ago who were burning coal to cook and keep themselves warm were releasing carbon into the environment.
As we have become increasingly developed our carbon footprint has increased, as you can imagine more and more families have 2 cars, cities are larger and require more power, more heating. Some of the largest carbon polluters are the world’s largest oil and gas companies. And there can be no denying that over the last 100 years humans have relied heavily on the oil and gas sector for all of the things we like to do.
This is in part why although COVID-19 has been terrible for large segments of the population, the planet we live on, Earth, has literally had a chance to breath as carbon emissions have been greatly reduced as people are traveling far less than in the pre-COVID world.
How to Achieve Carbon Neutrality?
There are essentially two ways to work towards being carbon neutral: offsetting or balancing your carbon footprint by reduction. It is easier for some industries to become carbon neutral than others, for example, the oil and gas sector might be able to offset their carbon footprint but they will never be zero emitters. In order for the communities, we live in to become carbon neutral we must change the way we have been doing things for centuries.
Carbon Neutral Communities
Carbon neutral communities are sprouting up around the globe and across Canada as small and large cities and towns want to do their part to help reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change. Thereby creating a better and brighter future for their children. And the reality is with the rate climate change is advancing, for themselves.
The primary manner in which communities can become carbon neutral is through beginning to change the way they gain access to their current energy requirements through relying upon more green sources of energy. This often includes retro-fitting homes and older buildings and really being mindful in the way that new spaces and places are developed.
Some examples of carbon neutral energy sources and practices are:
- Rain water collection
- Less cars or no cars
- Green tech for transportation
It is much easier to write the above list than to implement it. Cities around the world and within Canada who want to move towards carbon neutrality must work hard to change the pattern of reliance upon fossil fuels such as oil and gas, natural gas and coal. However, many of them are creating lasting change through a commitment to envisioning a brighter future for the communities they live in and the planet we live upon.
Carbon Neutral communities are the way of the future and they are changing the way that people interact not only with the environment, but with each other.