As individuals, businesses and governments are becoming increasingly aware of the current climate crisis, understanding what real, impactful targets are compared to the catchy greenwashing phrases often used in advertising has become more important than ever. As a company operating at carbon neutral status, we’ve decided to break down the key components of what carbon neutrality means for the planet, and how it can be the first step towards achieving the fundamental goal of net zero.
At Sustainable Kitchens we work with FutureLeap, one of the largest green business networks in the UK to measure both of our direct and indirect emissions in order to create our carbon reduction plan. We offset our existing carbon emissions through The Converging World, a Bristol-based charity who invests in renewable energy, ecological restoration and community empowerment projects.
what does it mean to be carbon neutral?
A person, company or country becomes carbon neutral when they assess their carbon emissions and nullify what they have produced through carbon offsetting initiatives. Offsetting emissions, in conjunction with avoidance and reduction is a pivotal step in comprehensive climate action.
Carbon emissions are harmful as they are proven to let sunlight pass through our atmosphere but stop the heat from the sunlight going back out into space. Over time, this contained heat has significantly contributed towards global warming and climate change.
Because greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide are dispersed evenly in our planet’s atmosphere, the concentration of carbon is the same all across the world. This means the location of where carbon is avoided or produced is immaterial, which allows local unavoidable emissions to be offset in different locations.
what does it mean to be net zero?
Simply put, being net zero means emitting no more greenhouse gases to our planet’s atmosphere than the amount you’re taking out. Businesses often use the terms ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘net zero’ as though they’re the same thing, but there is a key difference!
A carbon neutral business, for example, would be offsetting the carbon emissions they produce, possibly through planting trees or supporting renewable energy programmes. In this case, however, you wouldn’t be recognized as net zero, as this would suggest you’re not reducing your carbon emissions, only offsetting them.
Net zero for a business means achieving a state in which the activities in your value chain result in no net impact on the planet. This means swiftly reducing emissions in line with science-based goals, and balancing any unavoidable emissions through offsetting.
what are unavoidable emissions?
Unavoidable emissions are why offsetting will always play a role in achieving net zero. Although modern technology is advancing at speed, for individuals or businesses there will always be a small portion of carbon emission that cannot be avoided. This is where offsetting can help counterbalance these emissions, so that alongside the overall reduction in greenhouse gases we can reach the goal of net zero.
It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that offsetting without reduction can be a solution to combating climate change. The problem with offsetting is that if every individual and company decided to offset rather than reduce, carbon neutrality wouldn’t be viable through our existing initiatives. There simply isn’t enough land and resources to offset the scale of emissions that would be produced if the path of carbon reduction was abandoned.
This is why at Sustainable Kitchens, we feel our carbon neutrality status is only a small step on the journey to becoming net zero. Reducing our footprint year on year is central to our carbon reduction plan, which you can read by clicking here