25. Carbon Neutrality
When organizations and governments create climate plans, they often contain the same phrase: carbon neutral. And carbon neutrality is a major piece of mitigating climate change. But carbon neutrality plans regularly fail to act quickly on more feasible short-term objectives, offset the amount of carbon they intend to, and actually count every single source of emissions. Today, we’ll discuss some of the issues associated with carbon neutrality, and how plans can sidestep them moving forward to create the most positive impact possible. With special guest Dennis Carlberg, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Earth & Environment and Associate Vice President of University Sustainability at Boston University.
This episode is part of a four-episode series made possible by the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant from BU Sustainability and Innovate@BU.
It’s certainly a lot easier to make episodes about blatant environmental problems, but I find it equally important and rewarding to discuss the problems facing solution frameworks, like with UNEP, Organic and Fair Trade Certifications, and now, Carbon Neutrality. I don’t think there’s any question that carbon neutrality is hard to pull off, but it was really eye-opening to see that it isn’t just hard to pull off because of the upfront investments and changed habits, but it’s actually really hard to calculate, and there’s so many traps to slip up. That’s certainly not to dissuade anyone from pursuing it as it’s a fantastic goal, but it takes a lot of research and planning to confidently claim that an entity is carbon neutral.
Knowing all that, it was really impressive to see the ways in which BU has navigated a lot of those challenges. The BU Wind project in South Dakota was of particular interest to me since prior to the pandemic, I was in the final stages of a program that would allow me to visit the wind farm. Technically, that project is a carbon offset project, but given BU’s heavy involvement, they can really ensure that it meets their expectations. The BU plan also goes into excruciating detail regarding scope one, scope two, and scope three emissions, which is another important piece of the puzzle.
As more and more entities strive for carbon neutrality, I’ll be curious to see what roadblocks occur in the future. Ultimately, the ideal situation for the climate is for the entire world to become carbon neutral, and that will certainly be a challenge. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled over the next few decades, and hope that we can stay aware of these “growing pains” to be sure the climate crisis is as mitigated as possible.
Thanks for listening!