The Stepping Stones of Carbon Emission Reduction

published on 17 January 2022
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Carbon Neutral vs Net Zero vs Climate Positive

The use of climate change jargon seems to be increasing at a supersonic rate, and sometimes trying to figure out what everything means can become overbearing. Just to slow things down briefly, we thought it would be best to take it back to basics, by examining the key differences between three of the most used phrases: Carbon Neutral, Net Zero, and Climate Positive. These terms have been around for several years now, but it is easy to lose sight of the slight differences between them. They are all different terms for the reduction and removal of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. This is a vital strategy to minimise and reverse the effects seen so far in the climate crisis. All of these phrases are mostly used by businesses to explain what stage they are at in their own carbon footprint reduction journey. Choosing the right phrasing is necessary to be transparent in the public eye, but it can be difficult, due to the obvious diversity of phrases. A wrong choice could end up misleading consumers further down the line.

Carbon Neutrality

The term Carbon Neutral means that any carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, by a company or individual, is balanced out by an equal amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is removed using carbon removal projects, of which Reewild provides. These are projects provided by external organisations that are not run by the company or individual themselves. It is the most straightforward way to become carbon neutral. Examples that Reewild offer are reforestation and peatland restoration.

20% of Scotland is peatland, with around 80% of this peatland in a degraded state. Reewild's carbon removal projects can increase the peatland storage of carbon through restoration, as well as providing better habitat for biodiversity. Image Source: Allt Achadh na Sine, 2021
20% of Scotland is peatland, with around 80% of this peatland in a degraded state. Reewild's carbon removal projects can increase the peatland storage of carbon through restoration, as well as providing better habitat for biodiversity. Image Source: Allt Achadh na Sine, 2021

Reaching Net Zero

Net Zero and Carbon Neutral are two very similar terms. The key difference is that Net Zero means that for all the activities a company runs, there are no carbon emissions, meaning a business can run independently and balance out its own emissions. A major example of this within a company is by running their building entirely with solar panels, which produce no carbon dioxide to generate electricity. Be cautious though, Net Zero carbon refers to no carbon dioxide emissions, Net Zero emissions refers to all greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrogen dioxide etc. Net Zero is essentially the next step to aim for after a company/individual reaches carbon neutrality. Reducing one’s own emissions to reach Net Zero is difficult but very possible, and Reewild can help food industry businesses in achieving a Net Zero status, with vital carbon traceability and regenerative agriculture.

 Image Source: Canva, 2022.
 Image Source: Canva, 2022.

Becoming Climate Positive

Climate Positive is a relatively new term in comparison to the two previously mentioned, but its meaning is almost identical to that of Carbon Negative. The only difference between the two is that Climate Positive refers to all emissions, not just carbon dioxide. It is the next step after Net Zero, where a company or individual removes more emissions than they are producing, tipping the balance in a positive direction for the climate. To become Climate Positive, a company must first be Net Zero, and then run its own initiatives such as reforestation, to continue past the point of 0, and actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This is the final stage of the carbon reduction process, and all companies should be aiming to reach Climate Positive status. This is the best and most important way that we can really help reverse the damaging effects of climate change.

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REFERENCES

Dictionary.com (2021) Climate Change Terms. [online] dictionary.com. Available at: https://www.dictionary.com/e/climate-change-terms/

Bernoville (2021) What is the difference? [online] plana.earth. Available at: https://plana.earth/academy/what-is-difference-between-carbon-neutral-net-zero-climate-positive/

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