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Net zero vs carbon neutral: what’s the difference and how do we achieve these goals?

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Net zero emissions and carbon neutral are terms that are often used to describe efforts to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.

Net zero refers to the idea of reducing emissions, often in line with the Paris Agreement, and balancing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere with an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere, resulting in a net of zero emissions on a large scale. This means that any emissions that are released into the atmosphere are offset by activities that remove an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases, such as reforestation or carbon capture and storage. The goal of net zero emissions is to effectively stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and limit the impact of climate change.

Carbon neutral refers to the practice of offsetting one's own carbon emissions through the purchase of carbon credits or the funding of projects that remove or reduce greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality does not necessarily involve reducing emissions at the source, but rather offsetting any emissions that are released through the purchase of carbon credits or the funding of offset projects.

Individuals, companies, and other institutions can set a target to become carbon neutral by addressing their emissions—an important step toward overall net zero goals.

While both goals can be important tools for addressing climate change, net zero emissions represents a more comprehensive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the impacts of climate change. By balancing emissions with an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas removal, net zero goals aim to effectively stabilize carbon and other GHG emissions.

Overall, both net zero emissions and carbon neutrality are important tools for addressing climate change and building a more sustainable future. By reducing or offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions, we can take important steps towards limiting the impact of climate change and creating a more sustainable and resilient world for us and for future generations.

Find more important climate terms in our climate glossary.

About us: CHOOOSE™ is a venture-backed leader in technology-based climate action, building digital tools so that everyone, anywhere, can easily integrate climate action into everyday life and business. Through flexible integrations, customer-friendly interfaces, automated carbon measurement, and a connected marketplace of climate solutions, CHOOOSE delivers a complete platform that enables its partners to build and manage high-impact climate programs. Learn more at www.chooose.today.