December 13, 2023
Carbon Neutral v/s Net Zero v/s Carbon Positive

The Confusion

According to the Paris Agreement the world needs to be Net Zero by 2050. Or was it Carbon Neutral? What's the difference? With emissions on the rise, which one is more possible to achieve? Is Carbon Positive really that positive? Net Zero, Carbon Neutrality, and Carbon Positivity, terms that have become quite familiar and widely used to explain our sustainable future, describe the status of the emission taking place. "Net zero" and "carbon neutral" are terms often used interchangeably, which may cause confusion in the goals that institutions and nations set to achieve.

What is Net Zero?

Net zero means that you don't add anything to the current emissions. Emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are made 0. It places more emphasis on elimination of any source of emissions as much as possible. However, since it is impossible to get rid of all emissions, those that can't be gotten rid of are compensated for, through activities like afforestation. Many companies have set their eyes on net zero by 2035. Net zero can be achieved only if new or available technology that uses renewable sources of energy is used.

Carbon Neutrality and Positivity

Carbon Neutral means that the net emissions produced is zero. This focuses on compensating for the emissions made through restoration activities. As long as the organisation is able to make up for all the emissions caused, even if it does nothing to reduce it, it can be considered carbon neutral. Carbon Offsetting can be done to achieve carbon neutrality in nations or organisations. Carbon offsetting allows you to compensate over different industries or departments in the organisation. This can be seen in the EU's emission trading system (ETS). Carbon Positivity is where more emissions are added to the already existing amount in the atmosphere. All businesses with a carbon footprint are carbon positive. Some companies that are carbon neutral are Amazon, Microsoft, Delta Airlines, General Motors.

The aim for both net zero and carbon neutrality is reduction in overall emissions in the atmosphere. Achieving both of them is essential to make the transition into a green and circular economy.

Ways to achieve net zero and carbon neutrality:

  • Utilizing renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydel power etc.
  • Reducing energy consumption by adopting energy-saving measures.
  • Implementing green transport solutions.
  • Promoting sustainable agriculture and forestry practices.
  • Conducting carbon offsetting activities.
  • Adopting circular economy principles.

With goals for the sustainable future in mind, organisations and nations are developing policies towards achieving net zero and carbon neutrality. And according to the Paris Agreement, the world should be net zero by 2050.

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