Last year, Jeff Bezos pledged that Amazon would be carbon neutral by 2040, while Starbucks aims to be resource positive by 2030 through the 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions, landfill waste, and water withdrawal.
“Carbon-neutral” was Oxford Dictionary’s 2006 word of the year, and it’s only become more relevant and important in the 15 years that have passed. So what exactly does it mean to be carbon neutral? And how can corporations achieve carbon neutrality?
In this article, the GHG emissions management specialists at SINAI define what it means to be carbon neutral. We also explore popular and effective strategies for reducing carbon emissions and reaching carbon neutrality as a corporation.
Defining carbon neutrality
Carbon neutrality means an equal balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks.
A carbon sink is a reservoir, natural or otherwise, that collects and stores carbon, which lowers the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere. The three main natural carbon sinks are oceans, plants, and soil.
When carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored, it’s referred to as carbon sequestration. All global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration to achieve net-zero emissions.
Natural carbon sinks remove an estimated 9.5 to 11 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 a year, while global CO2 emissions reached 30.6 Gt in 2020. This figure is 8% lower than it was in 2019 and the lowest it’s been since 2010 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manufactured carbon sinks cannot remove carbon from the atmosphere on the scale necessary to fight climate change. On top of this, the CO2 stored in natural carbon sinks is released into the air through wildfires and logging.
Because of this, it’s vital to reduce carbon emissions to achieve climate neutrality.
What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
How to be carbon neutral as a corporation comes down to:
- accurately measuring the emissions to put into the atmosphere, and
- subtracting them by securing carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are simply credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions achieved through wind and solar panel farms or any other renewable energy project.
Corporate carbon neutral strategies
More and more companies are taking responsibility for their own carbon footprint, setting ambitious goals, and developing a robust carbon neutral strategy as they move towards becoming a carbon neutral business.
From taking a closer look at their supply chain to publicly tracking their progress towards becoming a carbon neutral company, corporations are prioritizing carbon neutrality more than ever before.
Depending on your corporation’s GHG footprint, carbon neutrality can include specific endeavors to balance Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions, as defined in the GHG Protocol:
- Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from your corporation’s owned or controlled sources,
- Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from the purchased generation of electricity, heating, and cooling used by your corporation, and
- Scope 3 relates to all other indirect emissions occurring in your company’s value chain.
Corporations are commonly aiming towards one of three strategic, overarching climate change goals within their carbon neutral strategies:
- Carbon Neutral - they will balance the scales in terms of emissions by a specific date.
- Carbon Negative - they will remove more carbon than they release into the atmosphere by a specific date.
- Carbon Positive - slightly different wording but the same goal as a carbon negative company, with an aim to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they put in by a specific date.
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) management
Carbon neutral programs run by corporations can benefit from cutting-edge technology to help accurately measure, analyze, price, and reduce carbon emissions. SINAI has built the planet’s leading decarbonization platform that can accelerate your business's environmental and financial performance.
Our next-generation software provides intuitive and customizable tools for every stage of your emissions journey.
The SINAI solution makes GHG emissions management and reporting seamless and straightforward, allowing your corporation to mitigate risk quickly while unlocking new decarbonization opportunities, all through one easy-to-use platform.
Let the GHG emissions management experts at SINAI help you develop an optimal decarbonization strategy and give you the tools to track your process as you grow and change with ease. Contact us today for a demo of our software and see how we can help you become a carbon neutral company.