As part of our ongoing work to combat climate change, the Aquarium has taken the necessary steps over the past six months to calculate our organization's carbon footprint, in partnership with Verdis Group. With a comprehensive set of data points in hand, we have identified areas of our operations that will need to evolve over time in order to lower the Aquarium's emissions to net-zero. By achieving net-zero emissions, the Aquarium will take a major step forward in our commitment to combat climate change and we hope to serve as an example for other businesses and organizations to lower their emissions!
The Importance of Net-Zero
Net-zero refers to effectively eliminating an individual's or business's greenhouse gas emissions. The National Aquarium is focused on its scope 1 and scope 2 emissions—like the fuel that is used on-site and the energy we purchase for our operations—as part of this initial goal. Indirect emissions—like those related to our waste, water and items we purchase—will also be carefully analyzed in a future study so that we can develop a plan for further reductions.
Net-zero is a more rigorous standard than "carbon neutral," a term that is often used when discussing emissions reduction. The emissions impact is measured based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the goal aligns with guidance from the Science Based Targets Initiative to obtain net-zero status, which offers strict rules on what can and cannot be counted toward reducing carbon footprints. By following this standard, we will limit our use of carbon offsets to 10% or less of our total emissions. The GGP prioritizes energy conservation and the use of renewable energy sources. While this is the more rigorous path to carbon reduction, we believe it’s the most impactful, science-based approach to this work.
From 2010 to 2019, the Aquarium reduced its emissions by 31%. This reduction was due in major part to operational equipment upgrades and a power purchase agreement. Approximately 40% of our total electricity use comes from renewable energy sources.
To further reduce our emissions to reach net-zero, the Aquarium will be focusing on additional energy conservation measures, including electrifying our infrastructure and vehicle fleet, increasing on- and off-site renewable energy sources and advocating for stronger policies and accountability for climate action at every level of government.