Values & Principles

Foundational values & design principles

The Net-Zero Advisory Body has identified 10 values and principles that we believe are essential to developing the most likely pathways for Canada to achieve net-zero by 2050.

What is a pathway?

A pathway connects where we are today with where we want to go. But it is not just a line on a graph. A pathway captures all the elements required to transform a system to better respond to societal needs and meet net-zero emission goals. A pathway has a clear beginning and end, with connecting steps that will be refined over time based on learning.

Five foundational values

Our 10 Foundational values and design principles for pathways to net-zero.

Seize the upsides

Major economic, environmental, health, and social benefits are directly linked to climate action

There are real and rising costs of inaction. It is more affordable to invest in action now than to delay. The most likely pathways are those that have the broadest benefits- for individuals, families, workers, businesses, and society as a whole.

Put people first

A net-zero transition must be just and fair

No one can be left behind or shoulder the burden because of where they live, work, or their identity. The most likely pathways support a just and fair transition.

Motivate and empower Canadians

A net-zero society brings real, tangible benefits

A net-zero future will require structural changes and shifts to social, economic, and behavioural norms. A net-zero society has cleaner air, more livable communities, more sustainable agriculture and natural systems. The most likely pathways enable Canadians to envision and strive towards a future that is desirable in itself, for reasons beyond GHG emissions reductions and removals.

Collaborate every step of the way

Seek real-world experience and build collaboratively

Pathways must be multidisciplinary, taking into account the contributions of workers, economists, investors, engineers, entrepreneurs, social scientists, and Indigenous knowledge holders, among others. The most likely pathways are grounded in real-world experience and built collaboratively.

Recognize and respect regional differences and circumstances

There is no one-size-fits-all approach

There will be pathways that are common for all of Canada at the national-level, but there will also be different pathways for different regions and economic sectors. In many parts of the country, jobs, communities, and the economy are closely connected to GHG-intensive activities. The most likely pathways will take into account that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for Canada and prioritize place-based solutions.

Five design principles

Our 10 Foundational values and design principles for pathways to net-zero.

Act early, and urgently

Have the broadest benefits

While the best time to act on a net-zero target was decades ago, the next best time to act is today. We must move now and keep innovating to effect necessary, system-level changes. The most likely pathways are the ones that start now, use a carbon budget as a basic tool, and increase ambition to keep the 2050 goal within reach.

Be bold and proactive

Strategic and ambitious

Pathways need a beginning, intermediate steps, and a defined end. Incremental changes will not to lead to results in 2050 that both meet the needs of Canadians and are net-zero. The most likely pathways detail the steps required to attain a defined future state, and have a clear description of the type and magnitude of changes required to get there.

Acknowledge there is more certainty than uncertainty

Prioritize available, at scale solutions

Getting to net-zero emissions by 2050 will be very difficult but is absolutely possible. The most likely pathways move decisively to implement what we already know will work to reduce or remove emissions.

Don’t get caught in the “net”

Prioritize emissions reductions and use removal and offsets when necessary

The commitment to “net-zero” instead of “zero” emissions is important, reflecting scientific-based advice and practical constraints. We must get as close to zero emissions as we can by reducing or eliminating GHGs across all sectors. The most likely pathways do not allow for increases in GHG emissions.

Beware of dead-ends

Avoid locking-in systems and technologies that will become emissions liabilities before 2050

Some efforts to reduce emissions in the relatively short-term may entrench systems and technologies that will eventually have to be replaced to get to a net-zero society. The most likely pathways do not require retooling shorter-term solutions at greater expense and lost time.

Compete and succeed in a net zero future

Concrete solutions that the Government of Canada should implement to ensure that Canada benefits from a carbon-neutral global economy, accelerates the achievement of a carbon-neutral economy and generates clean prosperity for generations to come.