Difference Between Carbon-neutral, Net-zero, And Climate Positive?

7 mins read

The new gold is carbon-neutral. More and more businesses are pledging to become carbon neutral, net-zero, or even climate positive. With global behemoths like Google claiming to be the first firm to reduce its carbon footprint, we may wonder: how is this possible?

Terms like “carbon-neutrality,” “net-zero,” and “climate positive” have been around for a while. Still, in recent years, tiny startups to significant businesses have incorporated them, primarily for popular marketing purposes. Unfortunately, the variety of terms and the lack of clarity around them might lead well-intentioned customers astray. Transparent communication about them, on the other hand, may motivate firms to be more proactive.

To start, let’s deep dive into the core of carbon-neutrality:

  • Carbon neutral indicates that any CO2 emitted into the environment resulting from a company’s operations is offset by an equal amount removed.
  • Climate positive activity goes above and beyond reaching net-zero carbon emissions to produce an environmental benefit by removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • The terms “carbon negative” and “climate positive” are interchangeable.
  • Climate positive and carbon negative are described by organizations as carbon positive and carbon negative, respectively. It’s mostly a marketing word, and it’s perplexing.
  • Climate Neutral refers to lowering all GHG emissions to zero while removing all other negative environmental consequences that a company may have.
  • Net-zero carbon emissions denote that an activity emits no carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Net-zero emissions equalize the total quantity of greenhouse gas (GHG) released and absorbed from the environment.

What is carbon-neutrality?

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Carbon neutral was named the term of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2006, and it has since exploded into the mainstream. Carbon-neutral (or carbon neutrality) is defined as the balance of releasing carbon and absorbing carbon emissions from carbon sinks. Alternatively, you might eliminate all carbon emissions. Carbon sinks are defined as any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits, such as forests, soils, and seas.

According to the European Union Commission, natural sinks remove between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year. But to yet, no artificial carbon sinks can remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to combat global warming. As a result, corporations have two alternatives for becoming carbon-neutral: substantially decreasing their carbon emissions to net-zero or balancing their emissions through offsetting and the purchase of carbon credits.

What does it mean to become carbon-neutral?

Becoming carbon neutral is the new motto of Wall Street and global corporations, but how can it be accomplished? As specialists in the industry, Plan A encourages organizations to apply a carbon accounting framework to the endeavor they are attempting to solve. First, we recommend that you calculate your company’s carbon footprint, which you can easily accomplish using our Carbon Management program.

After calculating the entire carbon footprint, you will have a clearer idea of how much your organization needs to offset. Then, cut carbon emissions by analyzing the worst carbon indicators – where your organization emits the most – and taking action. Finally, offset what’s left.

Because it is challenging to produce zero carbon emissions, offsetting is a valid option for becoming carbon-neutral. Offsetting your carbon emissions sends a powerful statement to your community that you are dedicated to paving the road for a more sustainable future. In addition, the monies raised by reducing your carbon footprint will be used to provide low-carbon technologies to areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. However, you must guarantee that the offsetting initiative is transparent and incorporates local populations in the process.

What is the difference between Carbon neutral and Net-zero?

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As previously stated, the words carbon-neutral and net-zero are synonymous. Companies in both circumstances are attempting to decrease and balance their carbon footprint. When carbon-neutral refers to balancing out overall carbon emissions, net-zero carbon indicates it emitted no carbon from the start. Hence no carbon must be absorbed or offset. For example, a company’s facility that is powered by solar and uses no fossil fuels might claim to be “zero carbon.”

However, it is critical to define net-zero carbon or emissions when using the term “net-zero.” On the other hand, net-zero emissions relate to the entire balance of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) created and GHG emissions removed from the atmosphere. Thus, even while the scientific notion is frequently attributed to nations like the United States and China, organizations may use it. In other words, net-zero refers to the moment at which humans no longer contribute to a load of climate-heating gases in the atmosphere.

Carbon negative or climate positive: doing more for the planet 

The words’ carbon negative and climate positive are interchangeable. It happens when a business eliminates or captures more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits. The firm then emits less carbon dioxide and has a good influence on the environment.

So, to become climate favorable, a corporation must first determine what its carbon footprint is. For example, suppose the North Face wants to launch a carbon-positive beanie. In that case, they must calculate the product’s total carbon footprint, which includes everything from the energy required to produce and distribute the product to the emissions associated with sourcing and production as the end-to-life product. To collect more carbon, the corporation would also need to take extra steps.

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