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Jar-gone: demystifying Carbon Neutral and Net Zero
What do carbon neutral and net zero really mean and how do they differ?

The question we get asked the most is what the difference is between 'Carbon Neutral' and 'Net Zero'. This field is complicated enough, but it gets even more confusing when you factor in all the other claims a business could make, such as Climate Positive, Carbon Negative, Climate Neutral, Zero Carbon and many more, which have contested definitions depending on who you talk to. Fortunately, Carbon Neutrality, in particular, and Net Zero, to a lesser extent, have clear industry standards to be followed, as well as robust scientific frameworks that will guarantee genuine climate impact if the standards are adhered to. At aklimate, we reject greenwashing in all its forms, and so we use the most rigorously defined standards for businesses that want to become Net Zero or Carbon Neutral. Below you can find our interpretation of these terms:

aklimate Carbon Neutral

Carbon Neutral

Some businesses will claim carbon neutrality with different definitions. However, there is an internationally recognised standard called PAS 2060 to which we align our methodology. This consists of the following:

  • Measurement of emissions to cover all of Scopes 1 & 2 emissions, and all Scope 3 emissions categories that account for at least 1% of the total
  • Neutrality to be reached by investing in verified carbon offset projects of multiple types (e.g. distributing clean cookstoves, protecting ecosystems, tree planting)
  • Crucially, carbon neutrality cannot be reached by offsetting alone. Businesses must also commit to measure and reduce total emissions (but not by a specified amount)

aklimate Net Zero

Net Zero

Net Zero is a more recent term, and as such the exact specifics are still being fleshed out. The Science Based Targets Initiative provides a scientific framework for the action that will be necessary to limit the worst effects of global warming. We follow their lead, defining Net Zero as the following:

  • Measurement of emissions to cover all of Scopes 1, 2 & 3 emissions
  • Core emission reductions are central to any Net Zero claim - business value chain emissions must be reduced in-line with 1.5C warming scenario (that means ~50% by 2030)
  • Net Zero can then be achieved (alongside reductions) by investing in carbon removal offsets (i.e. projects that directly take carbon out of the atmosphere such as tree planting or direct carbon capture and storage)

Summary Table

Begin your Net Zero journey today

At aklimate, we've made it easy for businesses of all sizes to join the net zero movement. Get in touch today to measure your emissions, set a public pledge (1.5°C Reduction, Carbon Neutral, or Net Zero), and gain robust climate certification.

Further Reading:

PAS 2060: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSI_PAS_2060

Net Zero SBTI: https://sciencebasedtargets.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/foundations-for-net-zero-full-paper.pdf

SME SBTI: https://sciencebasedtargets.org/resources/files/SBT-SME-Target-Setting-Letter.pdf

GHG Protocol: https://ghgprotocol.org/sites/default/files/standards_supporting/FAQ.pdf

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