The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis provided definitive proof that human activity has contributed to rising temperatures, which have caused catastrophic climate events that have devasted countries around the world.
This trend will continue unless strong action is taken today. To reduce these impacts, countries must achieve net-zero emissions as well as significantly reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, of which carbon emissions is a main component.
While governments have set net zero targets, including the recent mandatory target by the federal government that all car and truck sales must be zero emission by 2035, the work to reduce the impacts of climate change must be done by government, businesses, and residents alike.
In Ontario, the largest contributor to GHG emissions is from manufacturing and the production and use of electricity, which make up 60% of all carbon emissions in 2019 (latest data available). The province has made marked improvements in reducing carbon emissions from this area, from a high of 67% in the early 2000s to now 60%. However, the transportation industry, which is the second largest contributor, has steadily increased from 24% in the early 2000s to 31% in 2009 (latest available data), according to Canada’s Official Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is driven primarily by passenger vehicles (almost 80%).
This is not surprising given the province’s economy especially around commuting in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). According to the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, the GTHA contributes 44% to the province’s carbon emissions (2018, latest data available). While the majority of these emissions (42%) are from the consumption of natural gas to heat spaces and water and production of electricity, transportation follows closely behind at 34.3%, largely due to the amount of commuting and driving that occurs in the GTHA.
Why is this important?
By tackling the largest emitters – buildings and transportation – the GTHA can help reduce Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. While Ontario has already committed to building more net zero emission buildings, these two areas remain key focal points for our work.
We are committed to reducing the GTHA’s carbon emissions in the following ways:
Supporting businesses in their remote work transition
The pandemic has significantly increased the amount of time we spend supporting businesses in their remote work operations and strategies. We’ve introduced a remote work course for small business owners and operators, thanks to the Future Skills Centre, to help businesses across Canada develop a remote work strategy. The course is based on our own experiences developing a hybrid remote work strategy at the end of 2019.
In addition to reducing emissions from commuting, working from home can also reduce emissions from heating and cooling a separate office space.
From October 18-21, 2021 participants will learn how to: develop a simple, personalized strategy for remote work; rethink their work environments to maximize efficiency, decrease expenses and improve work/life balance; use design thinking tools and practices that can be applied to many other areas of business.
Reporting employee commuting GHG emissions
The Smart Commute program can help businesses seeking to report their GHG emissions by calculating the emissions produced from employee commuting in alignment with the GHG Protocol. The GHG Protocol is a set of standardized global frameworks that measure and manage GHG emissions from private and public operations and value chains. The GHG Protocol enables countries and cities to track and report their progress towards climate action goals and helps businesses that are seeking to report on their GHG emissions as part of their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.
The GHG Protocol also aligns with the UN Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) – a series of principles that businesses sign onto and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the “larger societal goals” as outlined in the PRI. pointA is also a supporter of SDGs and our work supports three of the 17 goals.
The Smart Commute program is a great solution for companies committed to the PRI and/or achieving SDGs by finding ways to reduce the GHG emissions from employee commuting such as increasing active travel (e.g., cycling or walking), reducing driving gas vehicles, or increasing remote work and then capturing these results in their reporting.
Continue towards electrification
pointA encourages less driving alone because of the many detrimental effects of doing so, but we recognize that this isn’t always possible for a number of reasons that can range from financial to health to other forms of accessibility concerns (see our blog series on accessibility for more). However, there are some ways that we can reduce our reliance on gas-powered vehicle usage, including:
- Switching from gas to electric: For those who must drive, we support moving away from gas-powered vehicles to the many other forms of electric vehicles: hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, or fully electric vehicles (EVs). While the sticker price for these vehicles may be higher, the cost to operate your vehicle is significantly cheaper.
- Increasing the number of charging stations: EVs require charging stations and this can be challenging for those who don’t live in freehold homes. The process can seem staggering and knowing which charging company to choose as well as cost for installation can feel rather opaque. Thankfully, while governments are investing in installing public chargers, pointA can work with condo boards and owners to advise on which charging company to work with and walk you through the process. Get in touch with us so that we can help you out.
- Leverage electric micromobility options: Micromobility options, such as electric scooters (where they are legally allowed to be used) or bicycles, enable users to go farther with less effort, increasing the number of people who can use these active forms of travel. They are also a lot easier to store and charge and can be great ways to connect to public transit or other forms of sustainable transportation. Plus, they have a lower upfront cost. These are also great forms of sustainable transportation that we should be supporting.
For those who are already signed up to the Smart Commute program, we’ll be offering support for those looking to move from a gas to electric vehicle, EV charging, and cycling education programs in the coming months. If your company has not already signed up, we’d love to have you join us.
While the IPCC report was written for policymakers, our work with commuters and businesses are integral to securing a brighter future. As our economy continues to reopen and businesses open their offices for collaboration in person, this is the perfect time to consider how we fine tune business operations in response to the IPCC report. We’re here to support you on your journey.
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash