If only there was a confused.com for carbon emissions… When browsing your search engines, you will find it hard to come across a consistent definition for the terms ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘net-zero’. But how on earth are you supposed to make sense of it?
Ultimately, the two concepts are working towards the same goal: to reduce the impacts of climate change by removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as you release, achieving a balance. We work with businesses day in and day out of their carbon accounting and reduction strategies, and here is how we best define each one.
Carbon neutral can be related to products and often found on packaging. You may find that this term is more popular in certain sectors such as retail or fast-moving consumer goods. Some say that carbon neutral can be achieved without any reductions first and through offsetting emissions alone.
Net-zero is commonly associated with business emissions and reducing emissions in line with science-based targets aligned with the Paris agreement, before offsetting.
So, what are the key differences? Well, Net-zero is considered a more long-term goal, which sets detailed and specific targets that are aligned with the Paris agreement, and some may argue that it is more credible due to this association with science-based targets.
There is certainly a lack of consistency in the way each term is defined. Hopefully, as awareness and research increase, so will clarity. But, for now, it’s up to all of us to do what we can, when we can, to reduce the negative impacts we leave on this planet. How will you start?