“When does ‘zero’ not mean ‘zero’? When it’s greenwashing, of course.”
“Zero carbon” is everywhere – including in the draft East Devon Local Plan.
Here’s a handy guide to understanding it all from the Conversation:
So what does net-zero mean? Completely eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions? Not necessarily. The “net” part of net-zero means we can still emit CO₂, as long as we offset (or remove) those emissions from the atmosphere by the same amount in other places… Net-zero, carbon-neutral, carbon-negative … confused by all the carbon jargon? Then read this
The VGS comment on the Local Plan looks at the proposals on ‘net zero carbon’: East Devon Local Plan consultation: VGS submission 2023 – Vision Group for Sidmouth
The owners of the Greendale industrial estate are pushing for the new town in the plan to be put on their land – and are presenting it as “zero-carbon”: Lobbying for a new town at Greendale – Vision Group for Sidmouth
However, their piece on Devon Live has been met in the comments section with some scepticism, with one typically questioning the whole idea of ‘zero carbon’, ‘net’ or otherwise:
Of course it won’t be built of concrete, bricks, wood or plastic. It won’t have roads or cars or commuters and they won’t have any heating or windows. The residents of course, won’t eat or drink anything either.
There is no such thing as zero carbon or even “net” zero.
This is an opinion widely shared by those professionally involved: “Net Zero is a lie” – Vision Group for Sidmouth
When does ‘zero’ not mean ‘zero’? When it’s greenwashing, of course
Net-zero 2050-ism must not be allowed to give oxygen to the lie that we can continue business-as-usual, without radically changing our lifestyles and economies… In fact, what appears to be happening is that many corporations and, in some cases, governments are concealing destructive fossil-fuelled business under the cloak of promises to be net-zero carbon by 2050.
A powerful case was made by James Dyke from the Global Systems Institute at Exeter University that net-zero can be a dangerous trap that lulls the public into thinking that real action is being taken to address the emergency. In fact, what appears to be happening is that many corporations and, in some cases, governments are concealing destructive fossil-fuelled business under the cloak of promises to be net-zero carbon by 2050. He argues they are banking on unproven carbon removal technologies to compensate – in the 2040s – for increasing emissions in the 2020s…
Indeed, it’s particularly questionable when economies dependent on fossil-fuels make a big point about ‘zero carbon’: Highlights from Abu Dhabi as policy leaders gathered for the Global Energy Forum – Atlantic Council and As President-designate of Cop28, Dr Sultan Al Jaber can advance climate discourse
What’s much trickier is the hidden carbon – which allows for more greenwashing.
Here’s just one example:
The Hotel Industry’s Big Carbon Lie
Hotels are making claims about net-zero carbon emissions—but most are focusing on only half of the issue.
Behold the hotel of the future: It’s plastic bottle-free, anti-fossil fuel, and powered entirely by renewable energy. A renovation project, it gives new life to existing structures of concrete and steel, and reuses door frames, light fixtures, and even tile. All of its guest rooms are decorated with locally made furnishings upholstered in sustainably sourced fabrics. It’s LEED Platinum—one of just about a dozen hotels in the US to claim the organization’s highest rank. And it’s the first US hotel to receive Passive House designation, granted to buildings that meet stringent net-zero energy requirements.
When the Hotel Marcel opened in New Haven, Conn., in May 2022, it checked all those boxes as part of a mission to be the US’s first net-zero carbon-emissions hotel. But for all of the ways in which the Marcel makes real efforts to be a green marvel, it missed one huge consideration: embodied carbon...