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The coolest climate language

The coolest climate language

By Sian Ineson • LinkedIn

Sep 30, 2021 • #climatechange #climateaction #netzero 

One of our biggest global partners just announced their commitment to net-zero by 2030 and to increase transparency around climate related financial risks. This was big news because businesses are BEST placed to lead the social tipping point in the fight against climate change inaction. These companies are helping make genuine environmental strategy and risk awareness the standard for business 🌱

But what is the difference between ‘carbon neutral’, ‘climate neutral’ and ‘net-zero’? Our onsite conservation veterinarian, Dr Sian Ineson, helps us cut through the buzzwords to help guide meaningful climate governance and gives tips on how to market your environmental strategy without risking being labelled greenwashing.

Often used interchangeably, these terms are starting to represent very different approaches to helping tackle climate change. Spoiler alert – net zero for the win 🏆

Carbon neutral means that activities that generate carbon dioxide (an important greenhouse gas) have been 100% offset by funding activities that draw down or reduce the same amount of this gas in the atmosphere, such as through purchasing carbon credits. Committing to being carbon neutral does not necessarily mean that an organisation has committed to reduce their carbon emissions at all, simply that they have made an effort to offset whatever emissions they have. This is not an ideal end game target, rather a possible intermediate step.

Climate neutral builds on carbon neutral by starting to include other important greenhouse gases (such as methane), measured in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence.

Net zero is a term evolving to take carbon neutrality a big step further, by committing to actually reduce an organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, as well as engaging in offset activities and the use of science based targets. This includes the indirect emissions and those throughout the full supply chain. The most recent IPCC Report reiterated the need to achieve global net zero CO2 by 2050 to keep global warming within 1.5°C.

What should we be aiming for? Net Zero Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and offset initiatives that maximize biodiversity across fauna, flora and microbial species

Why does it matter? To avoid the risk of overstating your organisation’s green initiatives and thus risk being labelled greenwashing, consider your language carefully and critically evaluate the offset initiatives being engaged. If you’re all-in on being carbon neutral, consider referring to this as a stepping stone to net zero. If you have made progress on significantly reducing your carbon footprint (aka total GHG emissions) and/or chosen offsets for maximum impact – that’s marketing gold and you should be proud - shout it out loud! You never know who could be inspired to do that same.


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