What is Net Zero? What is Carbon Neutral? What is the difference and what does it mean to us? This blogs aims to give you an overview.
The difference between Net Zero and Carbon Neutral
According to Selectra,
“The carbon neutral definition is, according to the European Parliament, when a company, process, or product, balances their carbon emissions and compensates for what they have produced via carbon offsetting projects.”
This video from acconia explains Carbon Neutrality further:
Net Zero “refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach it when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.” says the Office of National Statistics.
Here is a visual explanation from National Grid:
In summary, Carbon Neutral refers to balancing out your carbon emissions, whilst Net Zero means no carbon was emitted from the start – so no carbon needs to be captured or offset. For example, an office building running entirely on solar power, and using zero fossil fuels, can label its energy as “zero carbon.” If it ran on oil fuelled central heating, then the carbon emissions could be offset by better insulation, or by taking a commitment with a company like Ecologi (or similar) and planting trees.
Lots of companies are, quite rightly, aiming to make themselves Net Zero. However, this takes time because not only does your company have to achieve it, but all your suppliers and customers should too. How do we accomplish it? That’s the million-pound question – here is a simple video from Ecologi to explain:
To achieve Net Zero is more ambitious than to be Carbon Neutral, and therefore significantly more difficult to achieve – and neutrality on its own risks accusations of greenwash. You could have a very carbon intensive product but make no effort to reduce the carbon footprint, and just buy a number of offsets to achieve neutrality to give the impression of being green. However, with Net Zero you have to demonstrate that your targets work with climate science. Then, on an ongoing basis, you have to show that you’re cutting your emissions in line with that journey – you can’t just say you are.
In Europe particularly, brands are moving away from neutrality because it isn’t perceived as positively by the media or consumers. That being said, achieving neutrality with a science-based organisational target to back it up and demonstrate continual improvement is legitimately impactful – it’s only looking at neutrality that is increasingly questioned. We need to be looking further into Net Zero.
There are many independent third parties you can approach to certify and verify achievements against internationally recognised standards within the sustainability arena, such as The Carbon Trust and Planet Mark. They have both been around for a long time and have great track records, but there are numerous options on the market. Ultimately, the Science Based Targets Initiative lists companies with verified Net Zero targets.
Avrion’s work to be Carbon Neutral
At Avrion, we have been working on our Carbon Neutral journey with Ecologi, and will continue to investigate our path to Net Zero with them.
Their pledge is:
“Ecologi Zero offers a simple way to calculate, visualise and gain insights into your carbon emissions in near real-time. And to remove the high-cost barrier of carbon foot printing, we’ve made it free to get started.”
Why choose Ecologi Zero:
- It calculates your carbon footprint for free.
- No expertise or experience needed.
- It removes the guesswork, making Net Zero viable.
- Near real-time view of your carbon footprint.
- See the full picture with supply chain emissions.
- Fund climate solutions as you go.
- More features coming soon including target setting, recommendations and Net Zero certification.
The Carbon Trust has some great information too. Check out these articles:
There are a lot of companies looking to make it simple for your business to start your journey to Net Zero, and we hope that this has given you inspiration to get started (or continue) making a difference.