What do we mean by “carbon”?
Carbon neutral, carbon emissions, carbon footprint…
These terms can cause confusion, because they can refer to either carbon dioxide (which is one of the greenhouse gases) or carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) which is a catch-all term for greenhouse gases. All greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. This is why most often when you measure your carbon footprint, it includes greenhouse gases as well, so you can see your overall impact on the climate.
What is the difference in being Carbon Neutral or Net Zero?
There is no one set definition for these terms, but generally speaking…
Carbon Neutral means that an individual, organisation, or entity has balanced out its carbon emissions by removing an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere (offsetting by removal), or by preventing the same amount of carbon from being released in the first place (offsetting by avoidance). The amount of carbon emissions produced is therefore equal to the amount of carbon emissions offset – altogether your emissions are zero. Getting to neutrality can involve reducing your emissions before you offset, but it doesn’t have to. You don’t need to have any plans to reduce your emissions to be carbon neutral.
Net Zero, although technically meaning the same thing (balancing emissions produced and emissions offset, to get to zero), Net Zero is a term used to represent the movement to reduce carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible, then offset what remains. It is a “reduction-first” approach, which involves setting objectives on how you will reduce your emissions over time to zero.
Net Zero almost always refers to carbon dioxide equivalent, rather than just carbon dioxide. Carbon neutral mostly refers to carbon dioxide equivalent but can sometimes just refer to carbon dioxide emissions on their own.
Why build a Net Zero strategy into your business?
Addressing climate change: By adopting a net zero strategy, your business can actively contribute to combating climate change. As a someone in a position of responsibility, you can play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are a leading cause of global warming and environmental degradation.
Regulatory compliance: Governments worldwide are increasingly implementing policies and regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions. By proactively embracing a net zero strategy, your business can stay ahead of regulatory requirements and avoid potential penalties or legal repercussions.
Business Strengths: Integrating sustainability practices, including a net zero strategy, can differentiate your business from competitors. Many consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and actively seek products and services from companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Having a net zero strategy can attract environmentally conscious customers and potentially enhance your brand reputation and put your business in a position of strength for the future.
Cost savings: Implementing energy-efficient measures and transitioning to renewable energy sources can lead to cost savings in the long run. By optimising energy consumption and exploring innovative technologies, your business can reduce operational expenses associated with energy use, such as electricity bills and fuel consumption.
Innovation and business resilience: Building a net zero strategy often requires exploring new technologies, processes, and business models. Embracing innovation to achieve sustainability goals can lead to increased efficiency, improved productivity, and enhanced business resilience. It can also open up opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with other sustainable-focused organisations.
Attracting and retaining talent: Today’s workforce increasingly values purpose-driven and environmentally responsible employers. A robust net zero strategy can help attract and retain top talent who are passionate about working for companies that align with their values and demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Future-proofing your business: The transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable. By integrating a net zero strategy into your business now, you can future proof your operations and ensure long-term viability. Anticipating and adapting to changing market dynamics and customer expectations will position your business for success in the evolving business landscape.
In summary, incorporating a net zero strategy can align your business with global sustainability goals, enhance your brand, reduce costs, attract customers and talent, drive innovation, and future-proof your operations. It is a proactive approach that benefits not only the environment but also the long-term success and resilience of your business.