Climate Neutrality – A “point in time” statement, where organizations begin measuring emissions, setting science-based reduction plans, abating emissions in line with these set targets, and only then compensating for unavoidable emissions through carbon offsets. More comprehensive than carbon neutrality, climate neutrality encompasses more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than just carbon but is not as rigorous as “net zero.” Both climate or carbon neutrality are less rigorous than net-zero in that carbon offsets reduce unavoidable emissions up until the point of achieving neutrality, but do not go so far as to physically extract carbon from the atmosphere (carbon removal).
Net Zero – A corporate standard that builds upon climate neutrality by broadening the scope of emission reduction activities to emissions beyond the direct corporate value chain. Like climate neutrality, there is an emission reduction trajectory for the value chain, but net-zero urges organizations to go further by investing in projects that physically extract and prevent further emissions, essentially acting as a cure for emissions. Once emissions are as close as possible to zero, any further unavoidable emissions are eradicated not with carbon offsets, but with natural and artificial carbon removals. Carbon removal doesn’t just offset the exact amount of carbon you need to achieve neutrality, but physically removes carbon from the atmosphere forever, whether through carbon capture or optimizing natural carbon sinks, thus going farther than offsetting and allowing you to achieve “net zero.” Ideally, net zero should employ solely carbon removals with no offsets at all.
Climate Positive/Carbon Negative – The destination we strive for after achieving net zero. After all reduction plans have been implemented and only few unavoidable emissions remain, climate positive or carbon negative encompasses removing more GHGs than what is left, creating a net-positive.