Carbon Management Terms

There are lots of terms related to carbon management. Here is a quick guide to some that are often confused.

Zero Carbon: When no carbon is emitted from the get-go, so no carbon needs to be captured or offset.

Net zero: When carbon emissions are reduced to the lowest possible amount and what cannot be eliminated is balanced by taking an equivalent amount out of the atmosphere.

Carbon Neutral: Not increasing carbon emissions and achieving carbon reduction through offsets equivalent to the amount produced. This can include buying carbon reduction credits.

Net Zero

Carbon Neutral

Reducing emissions in line with latest climate science, and balancing remaining residual emissions through carbon removal credits.

Purchasing carbon reduction credits equivalent to emissions released, without the need for emissions reductions to have taken place.

Requires all available approaches and technologies to be used to reduce baseline emissions. Only recognised ‘hard-to-decarbonise’ emissions may be compensated with removal offsets.

Carbon-neutral allows for emissions to be created with no specified level of reduction required.

Net-zero must cover direct and indirect i.e. supply chain emissions (scopes 1,2 and 3).

Carbon-neutral must cover direct emissions (scope 1 and 2).

Net-zero standards and criteria are currently being developed by the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

Carbon-neutral has an existing standard. PAS 2060 is the only recognised international standard for carbon-neutrality. Certification of this exists via bodies such as the Carbon Trust and BSI.

Net-zero must encompass the whole organisation.

Carbon-neutral can refer to a specific product or service, or the whole organisation.

Net-zero is a long term goal, which involves setting specific target to work towards.

Carbon-neutral is a short term goal, that can be achieved now.







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