Energy Manager

Features Net Zero Cleantech In-Depth Profiles
Net zero is NOT a ribbon-cutting ceremony


April 29, 2021
By Anthony Capkun


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April 29, 2021 – Shortly before the Feds delivered their budget, I met with Tonja Leach to learn about net zero; specifically, to tackle the question “What is preventing us from meeting our net zero targets?”.

We won’t achieve our net zero targets by focusing on grandiose technologies alone, Tonja says, suggesting we need institutional changes. Most importantly, we need to be “sustainable at net zero”. The movement won’t survive when it depends solely on government intervention; net zero will only proliferate and sustain itself when private sector interests (and financing) are aligned.

Tonja is the the executive director of QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow), whose mission is to help Canada become a nation of smart energy communities. But she is quick to point out that cookie-cutter solutions won’t work in a nation as vast and regionally diverse as Canada.

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“I’m talking about building the knowledge, the tools, the resources, etc., that we really need to get [to net zero],” Tonja tells me. “These aren’t ribbon-cutting ceremonies.”