What’s the difference between carbon neutral, zero-carbon and net-zero?

Carbon neutral, zero-carbon and net-zero - we hear these terms all the time, but what do they really mean?

Honest Mobile
Wed Aug 19 2020

You’ve heard people talking about being Carbon Neutral, Net-Zero and Zero-Carbon. But what do they all mean? 

First off, if someone is doing any one of these things it’s great news, and certainly better than doing nothing at all.

The terminology can be a bit confusing, and it’s important that we know what each term actually means.

We’ve taken a look at some of the easiest ways of breaking it down and also explained what we’re trying to achieve at Honest Mobile. 

What does carbon neutral mean?

'Carbon neutral' means that all the carbon emissions you generate as a person or a business are offset, either by reducing your carbon emissions, or by counteracting your emissions through carbon absorbing projects such as sustainable reforestation. 

To be carbon neutral, a business should be considering their own direct emissions as well as those that their suppliers create in relation to their business, and their customers create by using their products.

This is what we do already at Honest Mobile as a Carbon Neutral Company. 

As a business there are lots of different things that contribute to your carbon footprint.  Check out our Impact page to learn more about what we remove.

What does net zero mean?

Net zero and Carbon Neutral are often used interchangeably, but there are some important differences. 

Formal definitions of net zero can vary slightly, but there are a few aspects that are normally included. 

Firstly, net zero includes other anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide (normally a product of agriculture, raising livestock and damming) as well as CO2. 

Net zero also includes a combination of both reducing and offsetting your carbon emissions. As a business you must reduce your emissions where possible and only offset any remaining emissions through greenhouse gas removals such as sustainable reforestation projects.  

This also means that to reach net zero, you cannot purchase any carbon credits. Carbon credits allow your company to emit 1 tonne of CO2 or other GHGs on the basis that another company has reduced their emissions by the same amount.

We’re working hard to become net zero as we speak.

What does zero carbon mean?

The final challenge is becoming zero carbon. This means that no carbon is emitted in the first place, so it’s even better.

For example, let’s say a household or business uses only solar energy. They would not need to offset this energy use as there are no emissions and they would be able to label themselves as zero carbon.

Doing more to protect our planet

When we started Honest Mobile, it was really important to us to build sustainability into the foundations of the business. Since then, we’ve taken a number of steps towards protecting our planet:

Want to do your bit in helping the UK achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050? Join Honest Mobile today! 

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