What is the Difference Between Carbon Neutral and Net Zero

When most people hear the terms “carbon neutral” and “net zero,” they assume that they mean the same thing. However, these concepts actually have different meanings. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what each term means, and explore the differences between them. We’ll also discuss how Carbon/Neutral can help you reduce carbon emissions.

What Is Carbon Neutral?

Carbon neutrality is the state of having no net carbon emissions. This means that any carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is balanced by an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide being removed. 


There are a number of ways to achieve carbon neutrality, but the most popular and convenient option is offsetting carbon emissions. Offsetting can be done by supporting charitable and environment-focused projects like planting trees and establishing renewable energy sites.

What Is Net Zero?

“Net zero” refers to removing all greenhouse gases emitted by human activity from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the GHG currently most scrutinised but there are others too.


To achieve net zero emissions, you must balance all the greenhouse gases you release into the atmosphere through everyday activities with the amount you absorb or remove from the atmosphere. Net zero takes things further by encouraging you to switch to using renewable sources so as to minimise – if not totally remove – the GHG you contribute to the atmosphere.


This can be done by planting trees or other plants that absorb greenhouse gases from the air, investing in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, or using technology to capture and store the GHGs. These are done all while minimising your overall footprint. 

Carbon Neutral Vs Net Zero - Similarities And Differences

The terms carbon neutral and net zero emissions are often interchanged
Fig. 1. The terms carbon neutral and net zero emissions are often interchanged

The terms “carbon neutrality” and “net zero” are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two. So, what is the difference between carbon neutral and net zero?


Carbon neutrality means that, overall, carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere is neutralised. This can be achieved by offsetting carbon dioxide emissions through activities that remove carbon dioxide from the air, such as planting trees. Your total carbon emissions should equal the total amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. 


Net zero, on the other hand, focuses on reducing all greenhouse gases. This means it targets not only carbon dioxide but all the harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, like methane and sulphur dioxide, to name a few. 


Net zero GHG emissions mean that you should minimise the overall greenhouse gases you release into the atmosphere. To achieve net zero emissions, you would need to not only offset your carbon emissions but also reduce them as much as possible. This can be done by utilising renewable energy sources or using technologies, methods, and practices designed to reduce GHG emissions.


Both carbon neutrality and net zero carbon emissions are important in combating climate change and slowing down global warming. They both have similar goals of eliminating harmful carbon emissions from the atmosphere, and eventually achieving zero GHG emissions.


But net zero is the more ambitious goal. To achieve net zero, not only do you need to offset your carbon dioxide emissions but also reduce your overall carbon footprint. Reducing your carbon footprint requires lifestyle changes that go beyond offsetting carbon dioxide emissions. It means changing the way you live by driving less, flying less, eating less meat, and wasting less food.


In other words, carbon neutrality is the starting point, and net zero is the ultimate goal.

Common Myths Surrounding Carbon Neutrality And Net Zero

Reducing carbon emissions is the end goal
Fig. 2. Reducing carbon emissions is the end goal

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding carbon neutrality. Let’s bust some of the most common ones:

Myth 1: Carbon neutrality is only for big companies

Many people believe that carbon neutrality is something that can only be achieved by large corporations. However, carbon neutrality is actually achievable for individuals and small businesses as well. Achieving carbon neutrality is not easy but it is possible for anyone who is willing to make the effort.

Myth 2: Carbon offsets are all the same

Critics of carbon offsets argue that they are often ineffective and not always environmentally sound. They point to cases where offsets have been used to fund projects that would have happened anyway or where the carbon reductions achieved are far less than what was promised.


However, there are many different types of carbon offsets, and not all of them are created equal. Some carbon offset programs are well-designed and well-managed, and they can achieve real, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions. 


When choosing a carbon offset program, it is important to do your research to make sure that the program is credible and that it will actually help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Myth 3: Net zero is impossible

Critics of net zero argue that it is impossible to achieve because there are always emissions associated with human activity. They point to cases where households and companies have claimed to be carbon neutral but have still emitted greenhouse gases.


However, net zero is possible if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero. This can be done through a combination of mitigation and carbon sequestration, and only if everyone takes part in sustainability movements.


Myth 4: Carbon offsets are a licence to pollute

Some critics argue that carbon offsets or carbon credits allow people to continue emitting greenhouse gasses because they can purchase offsets to compensate for their emissions. They claim that this creates a false sense of security and that it is not an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


However, carbon offsets can be a part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions. For example, you can offset your carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy or carbon sequestration projects. You could also reduce emissions through energy efficiency measures and by using green power in your home. Carbon offsets can help you achieve personal carbon reduction goals while also supporting sustainable development.

Myth 5: Carbon offsets are a waste of money

Some people believe that carbon offsets are simply a way for companies to make money, rather than having any real environmental benefit. However, carbon offsets can actually be a very effective way to offset emissions. By investing in carbon offsets, you are supporting projects that result in real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon offsets are not perfect, but they do have the potential to make a real difference. When used correctly, they can be an important tool in the fight against climate change.

Which Is is Better - Carbon Neutral or Net Zero?

Carbon neutrality and net zero both positively impact the environment

Offsetting carbon dioxide emissions through planting trees is often seen as the simplest way to achieve carbon neutrality, but it is not always the most effective. Trees take time to grow and mature, so they are not a quick fix for carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, trees can be affected by changes in the environment, such as drought, that can cause them to release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.


Investing in renewable energy sources or using technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions are often seen as more effective ways to achieve carbon neutrality. However, they are expensive and may require technical skills to set up.


Both carbon neutrality and net zero emissions aim to achieve similar goals: create a more viable environment for everyone by relying on renewable energy and eliminating excessive GHG emissions. Both are important in helping create a sustainable lifestyle and preserving the environment for future generations.


While achieving either carbon neutrality or net zero carbon emissions can be a challenge, the benefits are clear. By taking action to reduce your carbon footprint and achieve carbon neutrality, you can help to combat climate change and make a positive impact on the environment. In addition, you may also save money by reducing your reliance on fossil fuels and improving your energy efficiency. 

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint With Carbon/neutral

It’s tough being carbon-conscious. Our lifestyle has the largest CO2 emissions from everyday activities that we suspect least! But it’s possible to reduce your footprint and give back in a big way with Carbon/Neutral — a company dedicated to offsetting remaining emissions while also supporting charitable projects whose mission is having a net positive environmental impact across society as a whole.


Carbon/Neutral makes it easier for you to participate in carbon offsetting projects. We can calculate how much CO2 you’re contributing through the expenses reflected in your bank account. From there, we’ll assess which areas you can improve on to help reduce your carbon emissions. Finally, you can subscribe to our auto-offset service, so you can live guilt-free knowing that you’re offsetting your carbon contributions while helping communities.

Start helping save the environment today! Sign up now and offset your carbon footprint, automatically, every month with Carbon/Neutral.