Net Zero: Why It’s Important

Net zero greenhouse gas emissions

The phrase “net zero” gained high profile in November 2022 during the COP27 climate change conference held in Egypt. It appeared daily in print and online news reports and was heard frequently during news broadcasts on radio and television. Read on to learn about net zero, why it’s important to the future, and how it impacts our work as career professionals.

What is Net Zero?

We’ve all heard the term net zero, but what exactly does it mean? Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted into the atmosphere and the amount removed. One of the GHGs causing the most harm to the environment is carbon dioxide (CO2). When the amount of GHGs we emit is not more than the amount taken away, we’re at net zero. But how can we achieve this and why does it matter? And why does it matter to career development professionals?

Why is Achieving Net Zero Important?

GHG emissions released by human activities are taking a catastrophic toll on our planet by causing global warming. Global warming is responsible for devastating climate crises such as heatwaves, floods, and severe storms. It’s also responsible for melting polar ice, raising sea levels, and acidifying oceans as they absorb the CO2 found in the atmosphere.

Many of the world’s major governments (including the Canadian government), scientists, heads of industry, and organizations like the United Nations (UN), agree that urgent action is necessary to avoid further warming of the planet. Consensus is that the world must limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C. To do this, we must cut our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Net Zero and the Career Development Sector

The goals of 2030 and 2050 will cause many people to either enter or transition to “green collar” jobs. The career development sector can be ready to assist these individuals by becoming aware and informed of what it means to the labour force as we focus on a green economy. The Royal Bank of Canada’s 2022 report, Green Collar Jobs: The skills revolution Canada needs to reach Net Zero, offers these key findings:

  • 3.1 million Canadian jobs—or 15% of the labour force—will be disrupted over the next 10 years as the country transitions toward a net-zero economy.
  • 8 of 10 major economic sectors will be affected as the workforce adapts.
  • Canada’s transportation, energy, and manufacturing sectors will undergo the most significant early shifts, as 46% of new jobs in natural resources and agriculture and 40% of new jobs in trades, transport, and equipment require an enhanced skillset.
  • Initial changes will affect highly-paid, highly-skilled workers more dramatically. Managers in engineering, architecture, utilities and manufacturing are already seeing over 50% of their tasks shift due to the climate transition—five times that of managers on average.
  • For workers, upskilling could also bring significant opportunities. Between 235,000 to 400,000 new jobs will be added in fields where enhanced skills will be critical.
  • A highly-skilled net-zero workforce could establish Canada as a top destination for green investment, building on existing advantages, including a free trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico and large deposits of natural resources critical to clean technology.
  • A comprehensive skills strategy must be a key pillar of Canada’s $2 trillion net-zero transition, particularly as other countries compete for investment.

At Career Professionals of Canada, we often talk about the future of work. What the future looks like changes rapidly and continuously. We owe it to current and future clients to understand the labour market impacts of the drive to net zero.

By the way, members of CPC can be proud of the fact that our national association operates entirely virtually, offering programs, courses, support, and a community of practice, all without creating a carbon footprint.

Net Zero in the News

There are a multitude of interesting and authoritative resources online. Here are just a few:

Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 – Government of Canada

For a Liveable Climate: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action – United Nations

A Guide to Achieving Net Zero Emissions – Harvard Business Review

The net-zero transition: What it would cost, what it could bring – McKinsey

Net Zero Workforce: The role of skills training in Canada’s climate transition – Canadian Climate Institute

Living in Net-Zero: What Will the Jobs of the Future Be? – Earth.Org

Call to Action

Every bit helps. If you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to the drive toward net zero, you can! Whether at home or at work, here are some tips and actions you can start taking today: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint – 20 Top Tips.

If you have other tips and ideas to share, please let us know in the comments below.

Cathy Milton has been a member of CPC for 10 years now, and has earned the MCRS, MCIS, MCCS, MCES, and MCWS designations. She is a member of the board of CPC and the association’s Compliance Director. When she’s not working, Cathy enjoys cooking, sailing in summer, and taking care of her pets. 

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Thank you for the excellent article and reference links!
It’s unfortunate that although human beings know, or know of someone who has the ability and / or knowledge to protect our fragile ecosystem (i.e., plants, animals, microorganisms, soil, water, and climate) often, nothing is done until the damage is irreversible.
As an adult and youth Career Development Specialist and Facilitator, I look forward to learning and sharing more Net Zero and “Green Collar Jobs” information and resources with our current and upcoming workforce.
Nicole Rylko