With green issues being high on many companies’ agendas, being able to say your company is ‘carbon neutral’ could be seen to give commercial advantage. But what does ‘carbon neutral’ really mean?
There is currently no agreed definition for carbon neutrality. Generally it is accepted to mean that a person or company’s unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions are balanced by either carbon offsetting or sequestration. The accounting process can look at just direct carbon emissions or both direct and indirect – the lack of an agreed definition means that either can apply.
Crucially, a key word is ‘unavoidable’ so any ambition to achieve carbon neutrality has to first focus on reviewing the emissions made and deciding how these can be reduced – by limiting transport, energy usage and emissions from buildings, livestock, equipment and processes and using renewable energy sources. The remaining emissions that cannot be avoided are then calculated (your ‘carbon footprint’) and can then be ‘offset’ by investment in a responsible carbon project (eg. reforestation projects, renewable energy projects etc) or by buying carbon credits.