What is Carbon Neutral?

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With so many eco phrases around these days, it is hard to know what they mean; in the same way, carbon neutral is a term that sounds very much like climate neutral and is that the same as net zero? See what we mean; it can get confusing, so let’s iron these phrases out.

It is important to note that there is a difference between these phrases; therefore, knowing which one to use can be helpful.

What is Carbon Neutral?

Carbon neutral refers to the goals set out by the UN in the Paris Agreement, which sets out goals to help companies, organisations and individuals reduce their harmful emissions with a goal of neutral emissions by 2015.

What is Climate Neutral?

‘Climate Neutral’ is another term for an initiative set up by the UN in 2015 called Climate Neutral Now. Being a climate-neutral individual or organisation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero or below.

What is Net Zero?

Net zero is an initiative for any business, organisation or individual that sets out guidelines to reduce greenhouse gasses to zero per cent. A company can achieve net zero by reducing emissions and offsetting carbon markets.

What is Carbon Negative?

A carbon-negative company that has reduced their carbon emissions to a point where they are carbon negative. Carbon negative means that the company now offsets more carbon than they use. Not many companies are yet carbon negative.

What it means to be Carbon Neutral

So what does carbon neutral mean? If you see a company or product with this term above, it has initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Three green big tech companies aiming to go carbon neutral are Autodesk, Apple & Microsoft.

Notably, it is impossible to achieve zero emissions; when a company commits to becoming carbon neutral they will:

  • Mitigation – you must reduce your carbon emissions as much as possible, improve your energy efficiency & innovate in areas like low-carbon technology.
  • Renewable energy – increase the use of electricity from renewable sources.
  • Fossil Fuels – Eliminate fossil fuels that contribute to climate issues.

Where a company cannot reduce its greenhouse gases, it should compensate them through carbon markets, as set out in the Paris Agreement.

Carbon Neutral Certification for an individual or business

Whilst there is no official body to give certification, you can become a carbon-neutral company by having your emissions calculated. Once you have your emissions results, register with the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform.

You can also register as an organisation with the Carbon Trust.

Carbon Neutral Certification for Products

To get a certificate for a product, you need to register with the Carbon Trust; this is the green foot you can find on sustainable products.

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carbon neutral

Carbon Neutral vs Net Zero

What is the difference between carbon neutral and net zero? First, we need to address what we mean by net zero. This term differs from carbon neutral; you must completely negate your harmful emissions to become a net zero company. You can do this in two ways:

  • Reduce your GHG to 0% emissions
  • Offset non-renewable energy with power from renewable sources

In Britain today, one out of three of the country’s largest companies are leading the way by committing to Net Zero through the Race to Zero campaign by the UN.

Carbon Neutral vs Carbon Negative

What does it mean to be carbon negative? A carbon-negative company uses less carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) than it creates. Becoming carbon negative is impossible without offsetting CO2; a company can purchase carbon credits via the UN’s Carbon Offset Platform.

An example of a carbon-negative company is Microsoft, which is leading the way in reducing & offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions. 


What does climate neutrality mean? Climate Neutrality is another term for a initiative set up by the UN in 2015 called Climate Neutral Now. Being a climate-neutral individual or organisation is a way to reduce your overall greenhouse gas emissions to zero or below, bringing the world’s production of GHG in line with what our planet can naturally absorb.

Related articles: Top three green big tech companies, Top three sustainable clothing companies, How to live sustainably in the UK

Resources: Image by Freepik Image by wirestock on Freepik

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