Carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon: concept and difference between them

Carbon-neutral is an important concept about sustainability, as well as net-zero carbon. Knowing these two concepts in depth, and especially the difference between one and the other, is important to recognize the roles that carbon has socially, as well as the natural damage caused by it.

Both carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon are important aspects to guarantee a healthy and sustainable future for our planet. More than that, they are also urgent concepts that should no longer be ignored.

Thinking about all these points, we made an overview of the main information on the subject. With the definition of carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon, the main differences between them, and also their importance to the environment.


After all, what is carbon-neutral?


Carbon-neutral or carbon neutrality refers to the elimination of emissions and/or their compensation. This concept is most commonly used when dealing with an organization or building. For example, we say that a company operates in a carbon-neutral sustainable way when it has no carbon dioxide emissions in its activities.

More and more companies are understanding the need to work sustainably with zero carbon emissions. This is mainly due to the urgency in adopting this business model, together with population's constant demand on this position from organizations in general.

Get to know the 32 main companies focused on sustainability in 2021 that we mention in our blog and meet a practical way to foster sustainable daily activities.

When we discuss GHG – Greenhouse Gases – we can highlight three different scope sources.

Scope 1 sources

Are those in which companies have direct responsibility and reporting obligations at the operational boundary. It refers to the equipment that the company uses, with fossil fuel consumption, as well as the business stages with carbonate degradation, fertilizer use, vegetal suppression, activities with effluents, limestone, and more.

Scope 2 sources


Scope 2 sources, on the other hand, are considered the indirect responsibility of organizations. This is because scope 2 emissions are emitted through the companies' activities with electricity, heat, and steam.

Scope 3 sources

Like scope 2 sources, scope 3 is also the indirect responsibility of institutions. Scope 3 sources are those emissions that do not use electricity and heat.

Difference between carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon

zero emission

The difference between carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon is that the latter refers to the balance over emissions, so that there are no new carbon emissions in the atmosphere, just like carbon neutrality. On the other hand, achieving net-zero carbon is even more difficult, since in this case there is also concern with the elimination of indirect emissions, mentioned in scope 2 and 3, previously.

In a more simplified way, carbon-neutral is the offsetting of carbon emissions by a particular company or organization, while net-zero carbon means that no carbon dioxide has been emitted since the company started its activities and therefore does not need to be offset.

Both situations deal with the concern of sustaining the natural health of our planet and minimizing the consequences of human life on Earth. These are just some of the concepts for reducing carbon damage to the planet, but more than that, there are other alternatives that can be done.

Replacing fuel-powered cars with electricity is one of them. Read more about this in our publication "Key technologies for electric and hybrid vehicles".

The importance of carbon-neutral and net-zero for the environment

To state that carbon-neutral and zero carbon are important for the environment is also to say that they are important for each one of us and for society as a whole, since our health is directly linked to nature.

Understanding this is very important for those who believe that thinking about the environment is not a necessity and that it does not directly affect them. See a little more about the importance of the application of carbon-neutral and net-zero carbon:

  • environmental preservation with a focus on reducing the greenhouse effect;
  • reduction of carbon emission responsible for air pollution;
  • improvement in the breathing of human and non-human animals;
  • increase in the life span of the Earth;
  • decrease in the chance of acid rain;
  • ntrol of the planet's temperature.

Being a company or any other organization with a carbon-neutral or net-zero carbon seal has become a necessity and is every day more of an urgency that everyone should be concerned about.

If you enjoyed this publication, you will also enjoy our post about Energy Management: definition and importance. Be sure to check it out!

Check more posts on our blog about everything involving corporate sustainability!