what’s the difference between carbon neutral, zero-carbon and net-zero?

Aug 19, 2020

You’ve heard people talking about being Carbon Neutral, Net-Zero and Zero-Carbon but what do they all mean? 

First off, if someone is doing any one of these things it’s great news, and certainly better than doing nothing at all.

The terminology can be a bit confusing, and it’s important that we know what each term actually means.

We’ve taken a look at some of the easiest ways of breaking it down and also explained what we’re trying to achieve at Honest Mobile. 

what does carbon neutral mean?

It means that all the carbon emissions you generate as a person or a business are offset, either by reducing your carbon emissions, or by counteracting your emissions through carbon absorbing projects such as sustainable reforestation. 

To be carbon neutral, a business should be considering their own direct emissions as well as those that their suppliers create in relation to their business, and their customers create by using their products.

This is what we do already at Honest Mobile as a Carbon Neutral Company. 

As a business there are lots of different things that contribute to your carbon footprint.  Check out our latest blog post to learn more about what we offset.

what does net-zero mean?

Net-Zero and Carbon Neutral are often used interchangeably but there are some important differences. 

Formal definitions of Net-zero can vary slightly but there are a few aspects that are normally included. 

Firstly, Net-zero includes other anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide (normally a product of agriculture, raising livestock and damming) as well as CO2. 

Net-zero also includes a combination of both reducing and offsetting your carbon emissions. As a business you must reduce your emissions where possible and only offset any remaining emissions through greenhouse gas removals such as sustainable reforestation projects.  

This also means that to reach Net-zero, you cannot purchase any carbon credits (by purchasing a carbon credit you allow your company to emit 1 tonne of CO2 or other GHGs on the basis that another company has reduced their emissions by the same amount).

We’re working hard to become Net-Zero as we speak.

what does zero-carbon mean?

The final challenge is becoming Zero-Carbon. This means that no carbon is emitted in the first place so it’s even better.

For example, let’s say a household or business uses all solar energy, they would not need to offset this energy use as there are no emissions and they would be able to label themselves as Zero-Carbon.

doing more to protect our planet

When we started Honest Mobile it was really important to us to build sustainability into the foundations of the business, and since then we’ve taken a number of steps towards protecting our planet:

  • We’re the first network in the UK to become a Carbon Neutral Company which means we offset all our emissions including the emissions associated with the manufacture and charging of your phone.  
  • We’re a member of the 1% for the Planet which means 1% of our revenue goes towards planting trees for each of our customers, helping them offset their own personal carbon footprint. You can even track how many trees you’ve planted in the Honest Mobile App. This is above and beyond the work we do to be a Carbon Neutral Company.
  • We are a pending B-Corporation. This means we’re legally required to consider the environment in all our decision making. You can learn more about being a B Corp here.

Want to do your bit in helping the UK achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050? Join Honest Mobile today!