What does carbon-neutral by 2040 mean, anyway?

Here in Rock County, we’re hearing a lot about municipalities considering what it would take to become Carbon Neutral (Beloit-by 2040; Janesville-by 2050); the Rock County Board actually passed a resolution April 8, with a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. President Biden is also looking into setting a goal of 2050 for the county. But what does this term mean, and is it actually possible in the next 20 or 30 years?

Solar and wind energy are two examples of renewable fuel sources, but both require the development of battery technology for storage.

Achieving carbon neutrality means an entity (business, municipality, country) measures the amount of carbon dioxide it releases (usually from burning fossil fuels in transportation, energy production, industry, or agriculture) and tries to bring these emissions down to zero, or offsets them by supporting an effort that actually removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Rock County is starting to identify how to make this goal a reality…

Sometimes these actions include measuring and offsetting other greenhouse gases, such as methane, ozone, or nitrous oxide.

Attempting carbon neutrality is an important tool for addressing climate change, because it has the power to significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions on the industrial level, where the vast majority of these emissions happen.  But it takes significant resources to achieve and often requires policy change and governmental support.

Actions around achieving carbon neutrality include shifting to renewable energy sources such as solar or wind; reducing the use of fossil fuels for power generation; and increasing the electrification of processes and developing more powerful battery storage.

Welty is glad to be part of the conversation!

If you’d like to hear more about local efforts, Thursday, 4/22 (Earth Day!) at 6:30pm, the Janesville League of Women Voters, will be hosting a forum on Janesville’s proposal (here’s the link for more information and to RSVP). A panel of area stakeholders (including myself, on behalf of Welty) will discuss the implications and challenges for the City of Janesville to set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. 

Rock County is starting to identify how to make this goal a reality…Welty is glad to be part of the conversation!

Brenda Plakans
Executive Director, WEC