CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from the burning of fuels like gas, coal, and oil are largely to blame for global warming. There are, however, numerous actions we can take to improve this situation, such as reducing our demand for fuel-burning central heating and going carbon neutral.
Carbon neutrality is a wonderful strategy to accept responsibility for greenhouse gases generated every time we turn on our home heating, drive a car, or ride a motorbike.
Since climate change has become a global issue, emission reduction in any part of the world positively impacts the overall environment.
Before discussing how to achieve carbon neutrality, we will start with its basic introduction for detailed information. So, let’s get started.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutrality, or carbon-neutrality, is the state of having zero net emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is often achieved by combining offsetting policies and practices, such as investing in renewable energy sources or avoiding deforestation.
Carbon neutrality implies maintaining a balance between the amount of carbon dioxide we emit and the amount that is naturally absorbed. This can be achieved by reducing our energy consumption, switching to renewable energy sources, and offsetting any residual emissions through a variety of programs and initiatives.
There are many benefits to achieving carbon neutrality, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, and greater sustainability. However, achieving carbon neutrality can also be challenging, as it often requires significant changes to our existing energy consumption and transportation habits.
If you are interested in learning more about carbon neutrality, there are a number of resources available online that can help you get started. For example, you could consult guides on reducing your energy usage at home or work, investing in renewable energy, or planting trees to offset your emissions.
Alternatively, you can use an online carbon calculator to estimate your personal or business emissions and develop a plan to reduce them.
What is Carbon Neutral Shipping?
As discussed, carbon-neutral focuses on practices that put a zero amount of GHG (greenhouse gases, like CO2 and methane) into the air.
These harmful gases are significant reasons for climate change, so it’s essential to eliminate carbon emissions to the maximum. This is where carbon-neutral shipping comes into play.
Carbon-neutral shipping is an important strategy to be carbon neutral as the transportation industry is the main reason for increasing carbon levels.
Currently, there’s no clear solution to eliminate carbon release from shipping as the transportation sector still relies on fuels.
However, there are various methods that show how to achieve carbon neutrality and people can follow them to see the results.
Why Go Carbon Neutral?
Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our world today. Whether we are talking about increased droughts, heavy rain, heat waves, landslides, or floods, it is clear that the effects of climate change are becoming more and more prominent in our communities.
Beyond these effects on weather, climate change also has far-reaching implications for the environment as a whole. For example, it is causing ocean acidification and rising sea levels, which poses a threat to coastal ecosystems and island nations.
Moreover, human activity has led to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and reduced biodiversity across the board.
Despite the fact that many people have become aware of the effects of climate change in recent years, there still remains much work to be done to mitigate its impact.
This will require action from governments around the world, as well as individuals who want to contribute to long-term strategies for sustainable living and protect our planet for generations to come.
Let us all do our part in combating climate change by taking small steps every day – from reducing home energy usage to making more educated transport selections, being conscious about food waste management, or even switching our diets away from animal products toward plant-based options.
To address climate change, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) suggests that achieving carbon neutrality by the mid-21st century is critical. Around 195 nations from across the world have committed to this objective as a result of the Paris agreement.
Carbon Neutral vs. Net Zero Emissions: What’s the Difference?
While in practice, carbon-neutral and net-zero are often used interchangeably. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change gives a clear definition for both terms.
So, let’s define carbon neutral and net-zero emissions to compare them.
Carbon neutrality is the practice of balancing a firm’s or individual’s total carbon emissions over time, often referred to as “carbon neutrality.” However, there are key differences between these phrases. Carbon neutrality generally refers to net-zero CO2 emissions, whereas net-zero emissions would also include other greenhouse gases (GHGs) like methane generated from fossil fuels.
Net Zero Emission
Net-zero emission means achieving a balance between production and removal of greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, net-zero states the point where people stop increasing the burden of climate-heating gases in the environment.
Though carbon neutrality is a synonym for net-zero emissions, one primary difference between both is that one can achieve carbon neutrality at the domestic level with carbon offsets from other jurisdictions. In contrast, net-zero carbon emissions do not have the same connotation.
See Related: What is the Impact of Climate Migration?
Ways to Achieve Carbon Neutrality
To achieve carbon neutrality, there are a number of different strategies that people can use.
Some of the most common ways of reducing your reliance on burning fossil fuels and carbon emissions include:
1. Switching to renewable and/or energy-efficient products
You can reduce carbon emissions and save money by switching to more efficient appliances or installing solar panels or other renewable energy systems.
Energy-efficient appliances use less electricity, which means they generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Solar panels and other renewable energy systems generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.
And, because they don’t rely on fossil fuels, they’re also more sustainable and reduce your dependence on imported energy.
In addition, by switching to more energy-efficient appliances or installing solar panels, you’ll also save money on your energy bills. So it’s a win-win for you and the environment.
If you can’t afford a full solar installation on your home, you can opt for community solar by signing up for Arcadia Power where you’ll start getting discounts on your electric bill.
2. Electrify our transportation and energy consumption
You can help fight climate change by switching to low-carbon transportation options like electric vehicles, bikes, or public transit. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions, so they don’t contribute to air pollution.
Bikes and public transit are also low-carbon options because they don’t require any fuel. Switching to low-carbon transportation is a great way to reduce your own emissions.
If everyone switched to low-carbon transportation, we could significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. So make the switch today and help make a difference for the environment.
3. Limit excess meat consumption
You can help fight climate change by making some small changes to your diet. One way is to choose carbon-neutral products. Animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it’s responsible for about 15% of all human-caused emissions. That means the animal products you eat – beef, pork, chicken, dairy – have a carbon footprint.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal products. Another way to reduce your impact is to choose carbon-neutral products.
There are a number of companies that offer carbon-neutral meat and dairy products. These products are made from animals that are raised on regenerative farms. These farms sequester carbon in the soil, which offsets the carbon emissions from the animals.
As a result, you can enjoy your favorite foods without harming the environment.
4. Carbon offsets
Purchasing carbon offsets as a means to cancel out emissions that cannot be avoided. This can be done by investing in renewable energy projects or planting trees. This helps offset emissions and supports sustainability efforts.
A common approach for purchasing carbon offsets is doing so for air travel since there is no climate neutrality option at the current moment. These offsetting efforts help spur investment in renewable sources of power around the world.
A company like PayingGreen by Carbon Easy can help you get there in terms of your offsetting requirements.
See Related: How to Buy Carbon Credits [Step-by-Step Guide]
5. Support carbon-neutral products and companies
There are a number of different ways to support carbon-neutral companies. You can buy products from companies that are committed to reducing their carbon emissions, or you can invest in renewable energy projects.
Some of the best-known carbon-neutral companies include Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Netherlands, Sweden, and Iceland are some of the world’s most climate-friendly countries. All three countries have achieved carbon neutrality, and they’re leading the way in sustainability at the core of these countries’ policies and approaches.
If you want to help fight climate change, consider supporting carbon-neutral products and companies in order to reduce your impact on the environment. The most effective way to achieve carbon neutrality is by adopting a comprehensive approach that combines several of these strategies.
See Related: Benefit Corporation vs B Corp
What Steps Can We Follow to Achieve Carbon Neutrality?
Now that you know what carbon neutral is, the next thing should be to find practical solutions to this issue.
Be it on a personal level, corporate level, or community level; usually, there are three basic steps to become climate neutral, and they are as follows:
- Calculate: Evaluate emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases from different activities.
- Reduce: Focus on reducing emissions through increased efficiencies.
- Balance: Maintain the remainder by investing in carbon offsets.
These are three basic yet critical steps that everyone needs to take into consideration to achieve carbon neutrality.
Whereas, if we talk about the above three levels in detail, people in these sectors can take different steps to ensure minimal carbon emission.
When it comes to the personal level, individuals can lower carbon emissions by switching toward advanced technologies that don’t require gasoline. They can also consider using public transportation, biking, walking, and carpooling, leading to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Communities can invest in renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and biomass, to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and lower air pollution. Also, establishing a well-planned bike trail system or public transit system can make a significant difference in a community’s carbon footprint.
To get carbon-neutral certifications, organizations should find ways to reduce their emissions, no matter the business type and size. They can do so by shifting to renewable energy. The last and most effective step to reduce emissions is to buy certified, premium-quality carbon offsetting products.
What Has Already Been Done to Work towards Carbon Neutrality?
Climate change has become a concern for everyone across the globe. To avoid climate impacts, the IPCC states that we need to maintain global temperature under 2°C, requiring carbon emissions to be reduced to zero.
No matter the background or experience, people or companies from different sectors are constantly working to find out how to achieve carbon neutrality effortlessly.
Today’s businesses do not just focus on the present; they also secure their future. As climate change has become a global issue, many organizations across the globe have already taken initiatives to reduce emissions for a better world or business growth. Their small actions are making a considerable positive impact on the environment.
For instance, let’s talk about the incredible journey of Infosys to carbon neutrality. Infosys is one of the largest IT companies and the first one to commit to ensuring climate neutrality.
With thousands of staff members and clients across the globe, they started a carbon-neutral journey by addressing their carbon footprint regarding their business operations.
The company’s approach to achieving climate neutrality was based on three critical pillars:
- Lowering energy consumption through energy efficiency
- Shifting to renewable energy sources
- Carbon Offsetting uncontrollable emissions
To achieve its carbon neutrality target, Infosys has built new energy-efficient premises and upgraded the existing ones. They have started using 100% renewable energy sources.
Also, they run a carbon offset campaign that works with communities to turn down their overall emission rate and contribute to sustainable development.
Moreover, the company has introduced a software application to track carbon emissions which are then audited by a third-party verifier.
By reducing carbon emissions and moving towards renewable energy sources, Infosys is trying everything possible to ensure a low-carbon future while addressing its carbon footprint.
The approach of Infosys to carbon neutrality is notable because of its primary focus on renewable energy, creative energy efficiency measures, and offsetting. The company’s proven high-end performance standards for renewable energy projects, data centers, and office buildings are excellent initiatives that other organizations can follow.
Also, Infosys has been actively interacting with universities, government agencies, corporates, and nonprofit organizations to share their best practices and learnings.
Top Innovations to Lower Carbon Emissions
Innovations that cut down carbon emissions by companies or other organizations have made it easier for private, public, and civil societies to tackle their challenges. Here are some of the top ones:
Thin-Film Solar Cells
This project was introduced by ZSW and has gained the highest photovoltaic conversion efficiency in a thin-film solar cell. Apart from the benefit of low-cost thin films, this project has significantly reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Long-Lasting Flow Batteries
It is an Energy Storage project launched by an expert team of researchers at Harvard University. These flow batteries are non-corrosive and non-toxic, with a low production cost and a durable lifetime. They also have a high potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Reuse of CO2 produced by the Manufacturing Industry
The manufacturing of daily-use products puts a significant strain on the environment – the manufacturing industry solely emits around 30% of carbon dioxide.
Carbon Engineering (a Canadian company) has started working on this issue to take these excessive emissions directly out of the atmosphere. They have found a way to take CO2 from the air and then use it to produce fuel.
The company states that direct air capture can eliminate burning fossil fuels far more than plants and trees. They have already installed a demo plant in British Columbia and Squamish. The data shows that this project is removing around one ton of carbon from the atmosphere each day.
Advanced Battery-Charging Technology
The demand for public and private transport is increasing, and it will continue to grow. Studies show that transportation is responsible for around 23% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Though electric vehicles make perfect alternatives to reducing carbon emissions, advanced battery-charging stations are needed to make the most out of them.
Fortunately, researchers at the University of Surrey have discovered new materials – proven to be up to 10,000 times more potent than existing power batteries. This new technology can increase the potential of electric cars like gas-powered cars.
With this new battery-charging system, people do not have to wait for 6 to 8 hours to recharge their vehicles. Instead, you can charge any car fully at the same time it takes to refill it with gas.
Cooling Data Centers
In the US alone, over 3 million data centers bring the internet to the people. To run round the clock, these computer servers need lots of electricity.
The heat produced through machines could melt essential electronics. To keep the temperature down, data centers install server fans, air conditioners, or other equipment, which require more electricity.
It ultimately increases the rate of carbon emissions. As per studies, data hubs across the globe are predicted to consume around 1,200 TW hours of electricity, generate 1.9 GT of carbon emissions, or use 3.2% of the total electricity of the planet by 2025.
Fortunately, Forced Physics (a company in Scottsdale, AZ) has invented a low-power and passive technology, i.e., a JouleForce conductor. According to the company, they could minimize the electricity consumption of a data center by 90%.
This device also eliminates the need for coolants, like water that data centers use to keep their systems cool. Overall, this JouleForce conductor is helping data centers reduce emissions caused.
As people from the public and private sectors have realized the importance to reduce emissions from the atmosphere, they introduce innovations every day to deal with this environmental issue.
The innovations mentioned above are really helping the community to follow the path of carbon neutrality.
Benefits of Going Carbon Neutral for Everyone
Be it a government firm, a private company, or the general public, finding out how to achieve carbon neutrality has a significant advantage for everyone. Whether this year or after a few ones, going carbon neutral should be a part of your plan.
From buying electric vehicles to modern appliances to recycled stationery and more, all these actions can help you ensure a balanced future. Here are some top benefits of achieving carbon neutrality:
- Slows down global warming
- It helps in saving a lot of species from extinction
- Essential for sustainable development
- Carbon neutral companies will receive carbon-neutral certifications
- Going carbon neutral helps businesses improve their image and attract more people
- Companies can experience a sudden increase in their revenue
- Carbon offsets will boost technological progress
Overall, carbon neutrality has several benefits and is one step toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating global warming.
Though several organizations and communities have already engaged in “how to achieve carbon neutrality programs,” they also need additional measures to ensure carbon-neutral development.
Besides, we all need to reduce GHG emissions whenever possible in our everyday life to ensure a livable and healthy future for upcoming generations.