Net Zero or Carbon Neutral? What’s the difference?

What is the difference in these two terms and what will be required in the new Greenhouse Gas Emissions standard ISO 14068?

PAS 2060, a Publicly Available Specification that has been used as a guideline for demonstrating carbon neutrality, makes it clear that carbon neutral should be used to mean all scopes not just scope 1 & 2 (fuels burned on site and in vehicles and electricity consumption). However there has been a growing habit over recent years to use “carbon neutral” to mean just operational emissions – ignoring the value chain (scope 3) even though for most companies between 70 and 95% of their emissions are from the value chain.

To be truly carbon neutral, a company needs to reduce emissions from all sources as much as possible and then offset or actively remove the remainder.

Net Zero uses the same concept but at a larger scale, aiming for emissions from all sources to be reduced as much as possible and the remainder mitigated through removals from the atmosphere. These could be through supporting natural systems which sequester carbon (forest, peat, wetlands, seagrass, etc) or through technology like carbon capture and storage and buried solid carbon sinks.

The implementation of new Greenhouse Gas Emissions standard ISO 14068 ensures that emissions from all scopes are considered.

In summary, a company that is carbon neutral is also net zero (calculated on a year-by-year basis), as in both cases the tracking of carbon emissions and removals need to match.