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What Does Net Zero Mean?

What does Net Zero mean?

Image by Esa Niemelä from Pixabay

You’ve probably heard of net zero before. It’s become one of the most popular buzzwords in the eco-friendly industry, splashed everywhere from news articles to brand marketing. Even Boris Johnson has been getting involved in the net zero hype!

But, what does it actually mean?

We can talk about net zero all we want and drop it into conversations left, right, and centre, but if we’re unclear on what it is, we won’t get anywhere. The world really needs net zero, too, so this is important.

As a business, you are going to need to understand the different terms in carbon footprinting to lower your emissions. Don’t worry, we’re here to give you a helping hand and a place to start, making the process of becoming an eco-expert a whole lot easier.

So, here’s everything you need to know about net zero!

Let’s Start With Some Context

Climate change is the most prominent issue of our age. Right now, the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are 30% higher than at any other time in the past 800,000 years. Viruses and the economy pale in comparison to the threat of our own impact on the planet, and time is running out to do something about it.

There’s no doubt that we’re in a bit of a sticky situation. Humans want to keep developing and keep moving forward, but if we don’t change how we’re doing that, then our home will take a hit. Luckily, there are ways we can slow down climate change and stop the worst from happening before it’s too late.

At this point, let us introduce net zero.

What is Net Zero?

Net Zero describes a future when we will no longer be adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Unless we are going to go back to a pre-industrial way of life we will never be able to completely cut out our emissions, so Net Zero means eliminating as much as we possibly can, then neutralizing the few emissions that are left by removing a similar amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It can be used in every aspect of life, from travelling and cooking a meal, to running a business or even a country.

If your business is net zero, it means that you’re not contributing any extra greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. In practice this means eliminating at least 90% of your emissions before neutralizing the rest. To be truly net zero, this must refer to your entire production line and include your suppliers, operations, and product lifecycle.

For example, if you’re a clothing brand, you need to take into account the emissions from manufacturing and transporting the materials you buy to make the clothes.

Net Zero for business means  making all feasible reductions before balancing

Why is Net Zero So Important?

To put it simply, becoming net zero is how we’re going to keep the planet a place fit for people to live and thrive.

If we can all cut our emissions in half in the next decade and stop releasing more harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, we should be able to keep warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees - the level beyond which the effects of global warming become really dangerous . Sticking to that target should mean avoiding avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

The UK government has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, meaning that our entire country won’t be adding to the planet’s emissions. They’ll do this by investing in renewable energy, insulating homes, encouraging electric car sales, phasing out petrol and diesel-powered cars, and many more smart initiatives.

But it’s not just the government that need to be working towards net zero. Businesses, in particular, will have a key part to play in keeping our planet safe.

What Does Net Zero Mean For My Business?

The government want businesses to be working towards net zero alongside them. The stance they’ve taken is that by working to decarbonise your business alongside the economy, you’ll help your business to grow, encourage investment, and create new opportunities. You could also see lower running costs and qualify for tax benefits by lowering your emissions, boosting your overall profit.

It should also be noted that consumer demand is changing, and people want to shop with green businesses. In fact, 75% of millennial shoppers - the future of commerce - are now considering sustainability when they make purchases. You only have to look at the abundance of green campaigns run by global brands to see that there’s high demand. In terms of marketing, working towards net zero is a bit of a goldmine - an eco-friendly one, of course!

What Should I Do Now?

Even the tiniest of businesses produce carbon emissions, be it through their shipping, production, or somewhere else in their supply chain. Reaching net zero means transforming your company and the way you operate. We can’t reach our carbon emission goals without the help of businesses, and every one of us has a vital role to play.

If you’d like to start taking your emissions into your own hands and working towards net zero, get in touch with us at Go Climate Positive today. We can help you calculate your footprint and start your journey towards becoming a low-carbon business.

Written by Eoin McQuone

Eoin (pronounced like "Ian") is the Chief Carbon Coach and founder of Go Climate Positive. He is a Practitioner member of IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management) and a sustainability lead on the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force.

Eoin says, "Sustainability is no longer a 'nice to do', it is business critical. My goal is to make it accessible and affordable for every business, however big or small , no matter their market sector."

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