Is 2050 too late?  How are we going to pay for the investments needed to get to net zero?

 

You brought the Net Zero by 2050 motion to Council.  Is 2050 too late?  How are we going to pay for the investments that are needed to get to net zero?


The impact climate change will transform our city.  Our efforts to become a net zero city isn't simply a moral obligation - it is essential to our economic prosperity and quality of life here in Guelph.   Every household and business is affected by rising fossil-fuel energy costs.  These costs are putting pressure on transportation, food and city services.  

I am proud to have been one of the movers of the Net Zero and 100% Renewables motions passed by this past term of Council.   Our decision to endorse the United Nations Race to Zero initiative has so many far-reaching interconnected impacts. It will guide our infrastructure replacement, lower our energy costs, spark economic investment, improve air and water quality and leave a livable city for our next generation. It was a strategic move intended to kick-start our Community Energy Initiative (CEI) update.  The CEI update provides a realistic (and bold) pathway to reach our net zero goals.  The investment over 30 years is 3.2 billion, but will result in savings and revenue of 4.9 billion by 2050. Every year we stall, costs continue to rise.

The plan requires significant investment in retrofitting buildings, electric vehicles, net zero transit, power generation through renewables (ie. solar rooftops) and better urban design to provide carbon sequestration and groundwater recharge. I also  support incentivizing developers and all new publicly-supported housing to build net zero at time of construction. It is proven technology  and the cost is dropping.  The faster we reach 100% renewables targets, the faster we start to benefit from annual savings (and cleaner environment) that will pay dividends for decades beyond 2050.  We are fortunate to have supportive organizations who share our energy goals, such as the Chamber of Commerce, eMerge, Innovation Guelph, and the Green Energy &Technology Centre.

Is 2050 too late?  Probably.  Catastrophic impacts are already being felt in other parts of the world.  We need to speed up our efforts.  When I hear that it's too much, too soon, I strongly disagree.  Look at how quickly we adapted to using cell phones, computers, online banking, and adaptation to CoVID! Humans are a very innovative and adaptable species. We've done it before - wood to coal, coal to oil, oil to gas, gas to renewables. We cannot let politics get in the way. 

Local energy adaptation, generation and storage is core to our future economic prosperity.  We are supposed to enable change, not build walls. The future is already here. The by-product of transforming our local energy grid is a healthier planet. Win-win.