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What's the Difference Between Net Zero and being Carbon Neutral?

Written by
Poppy Stringer
min read
August 23, 2022

What's the Difference Between Net Zero and being Carbon Neutral?

Net zero and carbon neutrality are both strategies and commitments that businesses use to reduce their contribution to the climate crisis. But are they the same thing?

With so many phrases and a lack of clarity around what they mean, good intentions can be misled which is why it is crucial to understand the difference. 

What is Net Zero?

Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere and those removed from the atmosphere by reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. 

Net zero will be reached when greenhouse gasses are cut as close to zero as possible (with the remaining gas being removed from the atmosphere by things such as forests) and human activity no longer produces gasses that contribute to global warming.

Reaching net zero is so important because climate change needs to be slowed and eventually stopped in order to preserve our planet. Before the industrial revolution it is estimated that the earth was about 1.1 degrees cooler than it is now, global temperature only needs to rise by 0.4 degrees (so 1.5 degrees warmer than pre 1800’s) for the earth to become almost uninhabitable. 

To minimise global warming at the Paris agreement in 2015, 192 countries agreed to attempt to reduce their emissions with the aim to be net zero by 2050. This dedication from so many countries to the cause highlights how crucial reaching net zero is.  

What does being Carbon Neutral Mean?

Being Carbon Neutral  means balancing the greenhouse gasses by offsetting an equivalent to the amount of carbon that is already produced. 

For a business to be carbon neutral it just needs to remove any carbon emissions that it is producing. 

This is easy for a business to achieve but needs to be done in-line with a reduction and avoidance strategy to act responsibly and it means understanding your carbon footprint, which is why at SKOOT we say Identify, Offset, Avoid. 

You can choose which solution works best for you for your business firstly using the carbon calculator, and then you know what you need to begin offsetting/ removing  your emissions. To make your carbon output neutral or even negative just check out the shop to plant trees in our dedicated site in Kenya or to buy verified carbon credits.

But what is the difference between net zero and carbon neutrality? 

Both net zero and carbon neutrality are similar strategies that are used to reduce the impact on climate change and global warming, but they are different and are not necessarily interchangeable. 

Net zero refers to humans stopping adding to the burden of all climate heating gasses (Greenhouse gasses) in the atmosphere whereas carbon neutral refers to only carbon. And Instead of trying to reduce emissions entirely, carbon neutrality is understanding that you are producing carbon and working to offset it at an equivalent rate. 

SKOOT is on a mission to reach carbon net zero by helping businesses, communities and individuals reduce their carbon footprint and become carbon negative. Which means we are balancing the emissions and removals of CO2 in particular.  

Visit SKOOT today to learn more. 

Poppy Stringer

Our eco-conscious blog writer. Passionate about sustainability, she's on a mission to combat ecosystem decline with insightful blogs, driven by her concern for the planet's future.