How do we actually reach a net zero economy?

Madeline Wade

In honor of Earth Day, Vice President of Advocacy and Co-Chair of Signal Outdoors, Madeline Wade shares several areas where companies and Congress can work together to achieve shared goals through public policy.

Earth Day is always an opportunity reflect on the progress we’ve made as a country tackling climate change. Today, President Biden will pledge to reduce emissions by 50 – 52 percent by 2030 in a goal to achieve economy-wide net zero emissions by 2050. This will be a massive undertaking by the federal government, and must be in partnership with the private sector, as well as state and local governments, to achieve such an ambitious target.
President Biden will have a better chance of meeting these goals because of commitments many companies have made to achieve net zero emissions over the next few decades. Over Earth Week, we’ve seen a number of new commitments, including the formation of the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance to drive aviation decarbonization and HP pledging to reach net zero emissions by 2040 . These corporate climate targets will only continue to grow as consumers and shareholders put greater pressure on companies to better react to a changing climate and increased financial benefits from more sustainable practices.
However, as the country moves forward on a path to net zero emissions, there are several areas where the private sector and Congress can work together to achieve shared goals through public policy. These include:
Support strong international agreements that emphasize climate commitments. For global companies, it’s essential to have streamlined policies around the world to better meet net zero goals. For example, if renewable energy is not available in a certain region where a supplier or facility is based, the company has a harder time achieving its 100% renewable energy target. Additionally, for U.S.-based companies, innovation doesn’t happen within country borders. The more we can encourage emission-free technology around the world, the more U.S.-based companies and consumers benefit.
Invest in R&D for hard to decarbonize sectors. Regardless of a company’s sector, it inevitably relies on harder to decarbonize industries, like concrete to build its facilities, automobile manufacturing to deliver its goods, and machinery production to develop its products. By partnering with the federal government on pilot projects, these hard to decarbonize sectors can scale more quickly.
Increased investment in carbon capture and energy efficiency technologies. Many companies have openly admitted to having no idea how they will reach net zero emissions by their targeted timeline with the technologies that exist today. Without federal R&D funding, companies will need to pay more for emerging technologies that might not work at a national/global scale. Working with the federal government, the private sector can partner to invest in technologies that will help them reduce and store excess carbon emissions by, or before, their targeted timelines.
Think outside the box to combat climate change. The path to net zero is constantly evolving with new innovation entering the market every day. It’s exciting, albeit daunting, to not have to work off of an outdated playbook to reach these goals. Companies and the federal government can work together on new ideas, such as implementing a carbon market on federal lands or incentivizing regenerative agriculture to sequester carbon while feeding the country. Through increased partnership and willingness to innovate, the country will reach its net zero goal much quicker and with more tools in its toolkit.

Join the Conversation
Don't miss out, sign up for Signal's latest insights and events.

    Secured By miniOrange