What is it to be “Carbon Neutral”?
Your carbon footprint is the carbon dioxide you are responsible for. As an individual, it is the amount of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide equivalent) associated with your lifestyle. I.e. Your home energy bills, your diet, your purchases, your travel and your share of the government’s emissions. For a business, your carbon footprint is calculated in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and ISO 14064-1 (more to come in future blogs about this!). It is the sum of a business’s scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Carbon neutrality is defined by having a net zero carbon footprint. That is, if you produce X tonnes of CO2e, you also remove X tonnes of CO2e, thus making your carbon footprint net zero. Note how this is different to producing zero emissions, which is much more difficult, but still a form of carbon neutrality.
To officially remove your carbon emissions from the atmosphere, you must purchase and retire carbon credits. A carbon credit is a certified 1 tonne of CO2e removed from the atmosphere. By retiring the carbon credit, you ensure it can never be resold. Note how this is different from planting trees. Tree planting is fantastic and more should be done, however, there is no guarantee that the tree will grow and remove the CO2 you hope it will do (it could get eaten, blown over, chopped down in 5 years time for example). Carbon credits are certified CO2e removal projects. Carbon credit projects go through incredible amounts of auditing and verification to ensure trust within the carbon credit. This is why carbon credit retirement is the only official way to offset your CO2e emissions. (We will discuss more about carbon credits in a future blog!)
How can an individual be Carbon Neutral?
An individual is able to become carbon neutral in a number of ways. First, they can be responsible for zero emissions, but this is very difficult to achieve and you must essentially live like a caveman (or cavewoman). The other option is to calculate your carbon footprint and use carbon credits to offset your carbon footprint. Offsetting your carbon footprint by retiring the equivalent amount of carbon credits will define you as carbon neutral for the period of time you offset for. At MyCarbon we allow individuals to calculate their carbon footprint over a 12 month period and then offer the ability to offset on a monthly basis. Our calculator is free to use and no sign up is required if you are not ready offset your carbon footprint just yet. If you have any questions about our calculator or the process, please email us at email@example.com or contact us via our social media channels. The questions will most likely be picked up by myself (Toby) and I’ll be happy to talk through it with you.
How can a business be Carbon Neutral?
For a business to become carbon neutral, it is still easily done, however there are a few more rules to follow. Emissions must first be calculated and reported in accordance to the GHG Protocol and ISO 14064-1.
Emissions are calculated and reported within three categories: Scope 1: Direct Emissions, I.e. anything you combust at your business location. If you’re a coal power plant, it’ll be the emissions of the coal you burn, if you’re a farmer, it may include emissions from the diesel used for your farm machinery, if you’re a coffee shop, you’re unlikely to have any scope 1 emissions. Scope 2: Indirect Energy Emissions, I.e. emissions associated to your electricity and gas usage. Your Scope 2 emissions are someone else’s scope 1 emissions (your local power station). They are the emissions of the combustion required to produce the energy you use. Scope 3: Indirect Other Emissions, I.e. emissions associated to everything else of your business. This could be the emissions of your business travel, emissions for delivery of goods or the emissions associated to the goods you sell that are created in another location.
When calculating and re emissions, the principals of the two standards must be followed: Transparency, Relevancy, Accuracy, Completeness and Consistency. When writing a GHG report, you must be as transparent as possible so a reader knows exactly where the data has come from. All relevant information must be included within the report and be as accurate as possible. How emissions within the report are calculated must be consistent with each other, and reports must be consistent on an annual basis.
Once a business’s emissions have been calculated and reported, they can be offset using carbon credits in a similar process to an individual’s. With a GHG report written in accordance to the GHG protocol and ISO 14064-1, and the equivalent carbon credit retirements, a business can claim, without question, carbon neutrality.
MyCarbon team members have been train and certified in the GHG protocol and ISO 14064-1. We are also registered to purchase and retire carbon credits from the voluntary carbon credit market. If you wish to discuss making your business carbon neutral then please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange your FREE consultation. Or click the button below to get to our contact page.
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