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Opinion: What does Net Zero 2050 mean for Greater Sudbury?

The first in a series of guest columns, the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury discusses the city’s plan to get to net zero carbon emissions in 30 years
Approximately 800 students and adults attended a climate rally hosted by local Fridays for Future youth and marched in Bell Park, September 26, 2019. (Supplied)

Column treatment, guest

Photo: 130120_supplied-climate-rally-september



Naomi Grant and Christine Caveen

We see it in the news, and out our front doors. Climate change is here, and action is needed now.  

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5C,” concluded that allowing the global temperature to increase more than 1.5 degrees would mean huge social, economic and ecological disruptions. Current events, such as Australia’s catastrophic bush fires, repeatedly press home this threat. Around the world, millions of people are taking part in marches, climate strikes, and other actions to demand a safe future for themselves and their children.

Climate science gives us not only a warning, but a way forward.  Quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero can avoid the most catastrophic impacts.

Greater Sudbury joins other municipalities and countries in rising to this challenge. On May 28, 2019, with more than 300 residents present for the vote, Council unanimously declared a climate emergency and committed to achieving net zero by 2050.

The draft Greater Sudbury Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) lays out the city and community actions needed to meet that target. Individuals, businesses, and organizations all have a part to play.

Net zero means eliminating man-made greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, and removing remaining emissions from the atmosphere. Greater Sudbury’s plan eliminates 93 per cent of emissions, with the remaining seven per cent to be removed through increased tree cover.

To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 93 per cent in 30 years, some big changes will be needed, especially in how we get around and how we heat our homes. Here’s what a net zero Greater Sudbury will look like, relying on existing knowledge and technology:

  •  All new vehicles will be electric in 10-15 years, and many more of us will be walking, biking, or taking the bus.
  •  Ten years from now, all new houses will be Passive Houses. Twenty years from now, existing homes will use 50 per cent less energy, and all city buildings will be net zero.
  •  90 per cent of our solid waste will be diverted from the landfill, and we will waste much less water.
  •  Greater Sudbury will have a renewable energy co-op, generate solar energy in solar farms and on most buildings, and expand district energy.
  •  More trees will be planted and existing trees will be better protected.
  •  Our town centres will be denser. New homes will be smaller, and more of us will live in multifamily dwellings.
  •  100 per cent of electricity and 75 per cent of natural gas will be from renewable sources.
  •  Industrial efficiency will increase 35 per cent within 20 years.

In a series of twice-monthly articles, Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury will explore these changes, what’s needed to achieve them, and how they will impact our daily lives here in Greater Sudbury. 

Many of the big changes needed for climate action are opportunities to improve the quality of life, health, social equity and even financial outlook for your family and community. You will meet local residents who are already making low carbon choices, see examples from elsewhere, and find out what you can do now to reduce your own carbon footprint.  

Naomi Grant and Christine Caveen are members of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury. Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury is grassroots group of citizens and community groups who share a vision of Sudbury as a green, healthy and engaged community. For additional information on a net zero future for Greater Sudbury, see


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