What is the difference between carbon neutrality, net-zero carbon and climate positive?

Nowadays, more and more companies aim to become carbon neutral, achieve net-zero or even become climate positive.  


Those terms have been around for a while, but for the last couple of years they have been integrated by many companies mainly for mainstream marketing purposes. This has led to a rise in ‘greenwashing’, a means of using misleading information or outlandish marketing claims to attract and sell to an environmentally-conscious audience – a fast growing market. This is often in contradiction to their environmental and sustainability record. 


The diversity of phrases and the lack of clarity around them can be misleading. 

Let’s have a closer look at each of them: 

  • Carbon neutral means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere from a company’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed. 
  • Net-Zero carbon emissions mean that an activity releases net-zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
  • Net-Zero emissions balance the whole amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) released and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
  • Climate positive means that activity goes beyond achieving net-zero carbon emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Carbon negative means the same thing as “climate positive”.
  • Climate neutral refers to reducing all GHG to the point of zero while eliminating all other negative environmental impacts that an organisation may cause. 


Carbon-neutral and net-zero are two similar terms. In both cases, companies are working towards reducing and balancing their carbon footprint. But when carbon-neutral refers to balancing out the total amount of carbon emissions, net-zero carbon means no carbon was emitted from the get-go, so no carbon needs to be captured or offset.  

A good example is when a company is using only solar energy to operate and no fossil fuels – in that case it can label its energy as “zero carbon”. 


What about Zero Carbon Commuting? 


The latest ‘Decarbonising Transport’ plan published by the Department for Transport in July 2021 says:  

’Innovation to reduce emissions is not limited to technology. Actions taken by businesses and other organisations to make journeys more efficient, such as organising car sharing, are not the product of recent advances in technology. We want to harness and share the best ideas, provide clear data on the carbon emissions, and remove any barriers preventing organisations from reducing their emissions.’ 


You can find the full report here: 

Decarbonising transport: a better, greener Britain (publishing.service.gov.uk) 


It’s worth highlighting that shared mobility services can decarbonise and decongest our transport network, offer an alternative to traditional mass transit and provide new forms of transport for the first and last mile connecting to public transport.  


Increasing road vehicle occupancy can significantly reduce carbon emissions as well as directly help tackle congestion as it replaces otherwise additional road vehicle journeys. 

Here at Liftshare, we create a bespoke, fully branded, responsive car sharing site for your company, get your staff signed up and sharing, then give ongoing support to make your scheme a success. 


Curious to explore car sharing options for your business? 

Get in touch with us here: Liftshare for work – for work  

Author Ewa Orczykowska


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