The term ‘carbon neutrality‘ has been increasingly present in conversations among individuals, businesses, and governments alike. As the reality of climate change becomes more pronounced, many are wondering how they can play their part in reducing emissions.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the mid-21st century, as stated in the Paris Agreement, carbon neutrality is a key concept. It’s a collective effort, and understanding what it means and how to achieve it is crucial.
What Does Carbon Neutral Mean?
To understand the concept of carbon neutrality, let’s delve into its definition.
Carbon neutrality means achieving a balance between carbon emissions and the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere via carbon sinks. It is not just about limiting emissions, but also about considering ways to decrease the existing carbon in the atmosphere. Essentially, achieving net zero emissions necessitates a balance between emissions and removal.
Carbon sinks are systems that absorb more carbon than they emit. They are typically found in nature, with forests, soil, and oceans being the main natural carbon sinks. However, these natural sinks can only eliminate about 11 gigatons of CO2 per year, which is less than a third of global emissions.
Creating artificial carbon sinks that can effectively remove carbon from the atmosphere on a large scale is a challenge yet to be overcome. In the interim, to answer the question, “What does it mean to be carbon neutral?” the focus is on reducing emissions.
Carbon Neutral vs. Net Zero, What’s the Difference?
While the terms ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘net zero’ are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. Carbon neutrality focuses on the emissions and mitigation of carbon, while net zero is a broader concept that balances out all greenhouse gases, including sulfur dioxide and methane.
All greenhouse gases negatively affect the climate, but the focus is on carbon dioxide due to its significant impact. For businesses aiming to understand “What is carbon neutral?” it may also be worth considering setting a goal of going net zero.
Steps Businesses Can Take to Achieve Carbon Neutrality Understanding the meaning of carbon neutrality and implementing it in practice is not an unreachable goal. Most businesses can achieve it in the short term and maintain it for years to come. However, building the foundations to become a greener business is crucial.
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Here are the steps your business needs to take to start the journey towards becoming carbon neutral.
Measure Your Emissions Knowing where to begin is key to achieving carbon neutrality. All of your business’s operations will emit greenhouse gases. This includes the energy you use, the waste you create, and how much travel you carry out. Some businesses also account for the emissions of their suppliers.
Instead of a precise figure, think about your carbon emissions in terms of data points. How much do you pay for your energy? How much waste are you producing? How often do you travel? How far are you traveling?
With this data in mind, you can calculate your carbon footprint. Traditionally, calculating your carbon footprint involves multiplying your business activities by the emissions factor. The emissions factor is the known quantity of CO2 released, according to scientific measurements.
For example, if you make three business trips per year, it’s relatively simple to calculate your emissions. You can also use solutions like MyCarTracks to track your mileage and gas usage to get a rough idea of your annual emissions.
Plan to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Having a clear understanding of your carbon footprint is essential as it enables you to start planning for a more sustainable future.
Identify which activities emit the most carbon. For instance, a service-based company might find that most of its emissions come from energy use and suppliers. Delve into the details to determine who or what is responsible for the majority of these emissions.
Purchase Carbon Credits Carbon credits are a fantastic way to achieve carbon neutrality.
These credits are bought to support projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as tree planting and ocean cleanup. They can also fund the development of new green technologies to replace outdated processes. The investments made through carbon credits have enabled many green projects that would not have existed otherwise.
Review and Renew Achieving carbon-neutral status is one thing, but maintaining it is another. As your business grows and evolves, you need to continually monitor your carbon emissions and take action if they increase.
Maintaining your organization’s green credentials is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. It involves regular monitoring and suggestions for improvement.
Use MyCarTracks to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint One of the primary sources of carbon emissions for businesses is travel. Understanding “what is carbon neutral?” and its impact requires a willingness to change. Reducing your mileage begins with MyCarTracks.
Our state-of-the-art mileage tracker app provides you with comprehensive information about your fleet’s mileage every month and every year. With these calculations, you can determine your carbon footprint and make significant changes that move your business toward carbon neutrality.