News & Insights

Understanding the Difference: Net Zero vs. Carbon Neutral

26 Jun 2023

Xena Watts

Marketing Assistant

As companies increasingly strive to become more environmentally friendly, terms like net zero and carbon neutral are often used. We've seen notable examples, such as Google proudly achieving net zero status back in 2020 and Patagonia consistently making headlines for its commendable environmental initiatives. But what exactly do these terms mean, and how can we ensure they're not just greenwashing? With the younger generation's growing passion and awareness about climate issues, brands must catch on or risk being left behind. Taking the first step in understanding these concepts is crucial for embarking on an eco-friendly journey and making your brand more sustainable.

So, what sets them apart?

Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutrality refers to a company that is offsetting their remaining carbon emissions that they are unable to reduce. It strives for a balance between emitted greenhouse gases and those countered through carbon projects. This approach contributes to the global objective of keeping the planet's temperature increase under the 1.5°C target specified in the Paris Agreement.

Net Zero

When a company achieves net zero, it means that they have made significant reductions in their emissions and subsequently offset the remaining amount. Net zero is a broader term that considers multiple aspects of reducing a company's environmental impact. It prompts companies to address the root causes of their emissions and pursue continuous growth towards sustainability, recognizing that relying solely on offsetting is insufficient. Once emissions have been minimised, companies offset the remaining emissions through diverse projects aimed at carbon sequestration or investment in renewable energy.

To assess a company's commitment to environmental initiatives and ensure their credibility, transparency is vital. They should openly share their journey and progress toward sustainability, providing evidence and documentation where applicable.

Some companies have also embarked on the commendable path of becoming carbon negative, which means they are actively removing more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit.

The journey doesn't conclude with offsetting alone. Companies must formulate comprehensive emission reduction plans, complemented by annual emissions analyses that demonstrate progress over time.

With an increasing number of brands acknowledging their environmental impact, it bodes well for the planet. Continuing this growth and fostering awareness represent small steps that each of us can take to leave a positive legacy for future generations.

Crowd is passionate about helping brands share their sustainability progress in engaging and relatable ways. And as well as empowering clients to communicate their sustainable journey, we’re also progressing along ours, and will soon have B-Corp certification. By becoming a B-Corp it has spurred positive changes within our company, which are already making a world of difference in how we operate and grow. 

Want to amplify your sustainable messaging? Get in touch with us today.


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