In 2006 “carbon neutral” was the Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year. These days everyone from countries to companies is applying the term to their efforts.
It’s easy to get confused with all the new words surrounding climate policy. This helpful guide will explain what is carbon neutral and what carbon neutrality means in everyday life.
What is Carbon Neutral?
Individuals, companies, and governments all over the world are making commitments to become carbon neutral. What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
The simple answer to carbon neutral meaning is bringing your greenhouse gas emissions down to zero. These organizations are taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero or as close to zero.
Some organizations that cannot get down to zero choose to offset the remaining emissions. Carbon neutrality sees everyone as part of the solution to climate change.
Businesses, individuals, and governments can all do their part to bring their greenhouse emissions down. This will have a positive impact on the environment.
You don’t have to wait for national legislation to be passed or for an initiative to get going. You can take steps to achieve carbon neutrality today on your own.
Why Go Carbon Neutral?
A carbon neutral version of a product or service is better for the environment. Right now, most of our products and services produce a lot of greenhouse gases when the product is being made or the service is being carried out.
For example, take a look at the emission output of athletic sneakers. To create the average pair of running shoes a manufacturer creates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon negative shoes do not create emissions and are therefore better for the environment.
Organizations that care about social, environmental, and financial goals are working to limit their production of greenhouse gases. With increasing consumer demand for carbon neutral products soon many more companies may join them in their efforts.
How to Achieve Carbon Neutrality
There are two main plans world leaders are considering right now to achieve carbon neutrality. One plan is based on 100% renewable energy.
It uses energy efficiency on a large scale, reduces energy demand, and decarbonizing power generation. The other plan concentrates on new technology to reduce emissions.
The second plan describes the use of bio-energy with carbon capture and storage. By capturing the carbon released into the atmosphere companies can have a carbon neutrality business without changing much of their day-to-day operations.
Carbon capturing works like this. When burned in a power station, the resulting carbon dioxide from that energy production is then captured and buried underground in wells, mines, or geologic formations underground or even underneath the ocean.
This way the carbon is not released into the atmosphere where it causes harm to the environment. This method could become the primary method of power companies to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide.
For this plan to work carbon-capturing needs to be scaled up cost-effectively.
Does Carbon Neutrality Cost a lot of Money?
In short, yes, carbon neutrality will cost a lot of money but it also brings with it many benefits. A lot of people feel that it is worth spending the money to put the world on a pathway to carbon neutrality.
Scientists are warning the longer we delay taking action the greater the level of environmental warming. For every degree the Earth warms, there are more risks. This is especially true for the world’s poor and most vulnerable citizens.
Climate impacts the poorest people the hardest. In the real world, human beings have rights that are hard to display with economic models. It isn’t appropriate to put the loss of life or diminished human rights on the same level as corporations losing money due to carbon emissions.
Many times the human tragedy of carbon emissions is totally left off because people prefer to think of carbon neutrality in terms of business.
Countries that currently produce most of the world’s carbon are developed countries will access to resources. They must accept the challenge of finding a different way to conduct their business and help the world go carbon neutral.
Waiting to begin climate mitigation efforts also increases the costs associated with the plan. That is just bad economics for everyone.
There are also other benefits to reducing our greenhouse gases such as a reduction in the level of air pollution. Air pollution contributes to poor health deaths around the world.
If we take steps to reduce our emissions air pollution will decrease and people will live longer and healthier lives.
How Can I Become Carbon Neutral?
There are so many different steps an individual can take these days to lower their carbon emissions. Use an online calculator to identify your carbon footprint.
It will show you how decisions about the food you eat, the events you attend, and the transportation you use affects your global carbon footprint.
Using these tools will make you realize that there is actually a lot you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. But these tools will also point out that there are limitations to the impact of an individual as well.
Push your leaders to be involved in carbon neutral policies. Write them letters, attend town halls, and call them on the phone to let them know that carbon-neutral climate policies are important to you.
Attend meetings with other community members to discuss how to install community solar panels or carpool with your neighbors. All of these little things can help make an impact on the environment.
Give community and industry leaders a gentle nudge to become carbon neutral champions and help them solve problems that they may come across when implementing new environmental policies.
The Carbon Neutral Lifestyle
Climate change is not going to go away on its own. We need to work together with our governments, business organizations, and communities to find solutions to the problem.
We define carbon neutral as organizations that emit zero greenhouse gases or use offsetting to lower their emissions to zero.
Going carbon neutral is one way we can help do our part to emit fewer greenhouse gases. When we emit fewer greenhouse gases, the positive benefits will spill over in other areas of our everyday life.
This article answers the question, what is carbon neutral, and provides resources you can use to make a positive outcome. If you enjoyed this article please share it with your friends to help spread the word and browse our latest blog posts now.