What is the goal of Climate Neutral?

Climate Neutral aims to catalyze a movement of companies taking bold action in response to climate change. By becoming a Climate Neutral member, you verifiably demonstrate to your customers your commitment to sustainability.

Polluters shouldn’t be able to buy their way out of polluting. Isn’t it better to focus on reducing our emissions instead of offsetting them?

It is important to reduce your carbon emissions when and where possible but often times, especially when you're dealing with complex supply chains, the reduction process is complex, expensive and lengthy. Likewise, while it is possible to reduce emissions to a certain degree, it’s virtually impossible to bring your emissions to zero. Offsetting your emissions is an immediate and impactful way of taking action right now. And when it comes to climate change, we do not have a second to spare. Offsetting should take place in tandem with a smart, ambitious reduction strategy.   

What is a carbon offset?

A carbon offset is a mechanism for compensating for emitting one metric ton of CO2 (or greenhouse gas equivalent) into the atmosphere by preventing a metric ton of CO2 from entering the atmosphere elsewhere on Earth (for example, by investing in renewable energy) or by removing a ton CO2 from the atmosphere (for example, by investing in tree planting).

How do you know if offsets are doing what they’re supposed to do?

To qualify as Climate Neutral, you must purchase offsets verified by one of three verification bodies: Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard, or Climate Action Reserve. These high quality protocols assess the following attributes of carbon offset projects:

  • Baseline and Measurement: What emissions would occur in the absence of a proposed project? And how are the emissions that occur after the project is performed going to be measured?

  • Additionality: Would the project occur anyway without the investment raised by selling carbon offset credits? There are two common reasons why a project may lack additionality: (a) if it is intrinsically financially worthwhile due to energy cost savings, and (b) if it had to be performed due to environmental laws or regulations.

  • Permanence: Are some benefits of the reductions reversible? (for example, trees may be harvested to burn the wood, and does growing trees for fuel wood decrease the need for fossil fuel?) If woodlands are increasing in area or density, then carbon is being sequestered. After roughly 50 years, newly planted forests will reach maturity and remove carbon dioxide more slowly.

  • Leakage: Does implementing the project cause higher emissions outside the project boundary?

  • Co-benefits: Are there other benefits in addition to the carbon emissions reduction, and to what degree?

Rigorous assessment and auditing assures the carbon offset credits are having the intended impact.

Isn’t offsetting expensive?

No, in fact, offsetting is surprisingly inexpensive. Offsets generally run between $3 to $12 per carbon credit (i.e. per metric ton of carbon dioxide) depending on what type of offset project you choose.

What is the difference between Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and why is it important to calculate the emissions from all three?

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions are different types of emissions as categorized in the graphic below:

Image source:    Engaged Tracking

Image source: Engaged Tracking

For most companies that make physical goods, the vast majority of emissions are Scope 3 which includes emissions from resource extraction, material processing, milling, manufacturing, distribution, and so on.

Some companies claim to be carbon neutral but only include their Scope 1 and 2 emissions in their footprint measurement which is an incomplete and generally small percentage of the total emissions that they are responsible for creating. To qualify as Climate Neutral, we require companies to offset all three scopes.

Calculating my company’s carbon footprint seems complex - how will I know the measurement is accurate?

If you don’t have the time or budget to hire a consultant to calculate your emissions, we suggest using Climate Neutral’s approved online tools as described under our Methodology section.

Precisely measuring Scope 3 emissions is oftentimes costly, burdensome and time-consuming. The goal is not to calculate an exact figure but to make an informed estimate, round up, and take action.