CarbonNeutral® certification FAQs

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What is CarbonNeutral® certification?

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Carbon neutrality is achieved by calculating a carbon footprint and reducing it to zero through a combination of in-house efficiency measures, renewable energy and external emissions reductions projects.

CarbonNeutral certification means that a company has followed The CarbonNeutral Protocol to make clear, credible, transparent claim of their carbon neutral action.

The CarbonNeutral Protocol provides businesses with a clear framework to deliver carbon neutrality for their business.

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What is The CarbonNeutral® Protocol?

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The Protocol provides a pragmatic, business-focused framework for carbon neutral action of the highest quality.

The Protocol is a publicly available document, so companies can reference it to demonstrate the credibility and transparency of their carbon neutral programme.

Launched in 2002, it is reviewed annually to ensure it reflects the latest developments in emissions measurement and reductions. Our Scientific and Technical Advisory Council of business, NGO and scientific experts work to ensure it follows industry, policy and scientific best practice.

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How does a business become CarbonNeutral® certified?

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Here are the five steps that the Protocol outlines to deliver carbon neutrality.

  1. Define. Natural Capital Partners works with the business to decide whether to make its whole company or a particular product/service or activity carbon neutral. The CarbonNeutral Protocol defines what emissions are included in each option.
  2. Measure. An independent and expert emissions assessment provider identifies what data needs collecting, supports its collection from the business, and then calculates the business’s total emissions. The CarbonNeutral Protocol clearly identifies the data required for each type of carbon neutral certification.
  3. Target. The business commits to becoming carbon neutral by achieving net zero emissions.
  4. Reduce. The business delivers internal emissions reductions – such as energy-efficiency programmes and changes to business travel. Natural Capital Partners works with the business to identify and deliver the external emissions reductions projects and renewable energy to make it carbon neutral.
  5. Communicate. Natural Capital Partners supports the business to deliver a clear and credible message about each stage of its climate action to its stakeholders.

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As part of the ‘Reduce’ section, what are external emissions reductions (offsetting) projects?

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Today, it is still highly unlikely that a business can achieve zero emissions in-house for its operations, products and activities. Around the world, there are projects reducing and removing emissions that need finance in order to happen. These include renewable energy projects, devices that reduce household emissions, as well as forest conservation and restoration.

By offsetting the emissions they can’t reduce internally, businesses are providing the critical finance to these projects, and enabling emission reductions to be delivered now. The projects must have their emission reductions independently validated and verified to a third party standard to ensure what they deliver is of the highest quality.

In addition, through these projects businesses are delivering further impact on sustainable development: renewable energy means jobs, solar household devices give energy access to low income households, cutting fossil fuel pollution benefits health, forestry also conserves biodiversity.

Internal emissions reductions and reducing emissions externally through financing low-carbon sustainable development projects has the same benefit for global climate change.

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How do these external emissions reductions (offsetting) projects guarantee the emissions reductions?

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Natural Capital Partners’ Global Markets’ experience of working with a global network of project partners means it has unrivalled expertise about the emission reduction projects being developed around the world. Natural Capital Partners has developed a leading-edge quality assurance programme that goes beyond industry requirements and continually evolves to set best practice:

  • Undertaking a detailed due diligence review of every project it considers, ensuring it only contracts with the highest quality projects, eliminating risk of under-performance.
  • Ensuring the emission reduction projects are all validated and verified to recognised third-party standards.
  • A founding member of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA), it complies with the ICROA Code of Best Practice through an annual audit.
  • Going beyond industry standards, which is why it has been recognised as Best Offset Retailer by Environmental Finance for the last nine years.
  • Having a Technical and Scientific Advisory Group of external experts from academia, business and NGOs which updates The CarbonNeutral Protocol on an annual basis to keep it up to date with the latest best practice in industry and science.

Any carbon credit used towards the achievement of CarbonNeutral® certification must meet the following criteria:

  • Additional: An emission reduction project is said to be additional when it can be demonstrated that in the absence of the availability of carbon finance the project activity would not have occurred (the “baseline” scenario); and, such baseline scenario would have resulted in higher GHG emissions. Each eligible carbon accounting standard under The CarbonNeutral Protocol provides tools for how additionality at a project level is tested and demonstrated.
  • Legally attributable: Carbon credits must have a clear record of ownership from project owner and thereafter.
  • Measurable: Emissions reductions are quantified relative to a transparent and robust baseline scenario using recognised, peer reviewed, published methods and project specific data.
  • Permanent: Emissions reductions are permanent. Where reductions are generated by projects that carry risk of reversal, adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure that the risk of reversal is minimised and that, if any reversal occurs, a mechanism is in place that guarantees the reductions will be replaced.
  • Unique: Emissions reductions are held and retired on a registry to ensure that no more than one carbon credit can be associated with a single emission reduction.
  • Independently verified: Emissions reductions are verified by an expert third party qualified to verify projects to ensure the criteria above have been met

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How do the non-carbon benefits of the projects get assessed?

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Natural Capital Partners conducts a detailed evaluation of the additional benefits to households, communities and biodiversity from carbon finance projects, to understand their impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, Natural Capital Partners has been working with two of the leading standards – Verra and Gold Standard – to use their SDG verification processes on some projects.

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How can taking climate action benefit business? How does carbon neutrality help?

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There is a gap between government commitments and what scientists agree needs to happen to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. Successful companies realise that action on climate is critical to their success. By taking climate action businesses can:

  • Engage stakeholders by motivating and retaining staff with a message about taking immediate action to reduce carbon emissions, and by demonstrating to investors that the business is measuring, disclosing and managing climate risks
  • Increase revenue by differentiating businesses in the market, meeting customer demand for action by their suppliers and by putting a focus on climate into the business to create new products and services
  • Reduce cost by putting a price on carbon into the business to encourage behaviour change on high emission activities like energy use and business travel, and to incentivise process and system changes to reduce emissions
  • Mitigate risks by reducing the risk of possible future regulation that taxes carbon consumption and supporting resilience in the value chain through emission reduction projects that are support supplier, employee and customer communities.

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Why is CarbonNeutral® certification a good way of taking climate action?

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  • A simple, understandable statement of action. Customers, employees and other stakeholders receive a clear, credible and easy to understand statement of a business’s commitment to climate action.
  • Clear and easy. The CarbonNeutral Protocol provides a pragmatic, business-focused framework, created by business, to clearly define what carbon neutrality is and what steps a company must take to be carbon neutral. Find out how the Protocol defines carbon neutrality
  • Used by businesses throughout the world. Hundreds of businesses of all sizes, in all sectors and across the world are using the Protocol to go carbon neutral and join the growing roster of companies benefitting from credible climate action
  • Delivering quality and credibility since 2002. The Protocol was the first clear set of guidelines for businesses to achieve carbon neutrality. It is updated annually with input from its Technical and Scientific Advisory Group.

Assurance. Businesses’ carbon neutrality is backed up by a credible, third-party framework and transparent through the publicly-available Protocol.

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Is carbon neutrality a stand-alone climate action?

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No. Carbon neutrality serves as a capstone for a number of climate actions.

  • Internal reduction targets. Using Science-Based Targets and marginal abatement cost curves are effective ways to set an internal reduction goal. Carbon neutrality puts a carbon price into the business to incentivise these internal reductions
    • Research by Ecosystem Marketplace looking at 1,835 companies reporting to CDP found that companies offsetting their unavoidable emissions are 50% more likely to have an absolute target for emissions reductions, and four times more likely to have set an internal price on carbon.
    • Research by Natural Capital Partners looking at Fortune 500 Global found that companies with a carbon neutral commitment are four times more likely to have a Science-Based Target (SBT) for internal emissions than companies without a carbon neutral commitment
  • Emissions reporting. Becoming carbon neutral requires a business to measure its carbon emissions which can also be used for CDP reporting and is recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
  • Financing low-carbon technologies. Companies which become carbon neutral are financing the most cost-effective solutions being developed to remove emissions from the atmosphere, including many of the solutions identified by Project Drawdown and Natural Climate Solutions.

Becoming carbon neutral enables companies to showcase their commitment as part of broader business coalitions that are lobbying for increased targets and climate ambition, such as Climate Neutral Now, RE100, Step Up Declaration (U.S.), We Are Still In (U.S.).

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Who manages CarbonNeutral® certification?

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The CarbonNeutral Protocol was created and is managed by Natural Capital Partners.

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Who are Natural Capital Partners?

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Natural Capital Partners is working to harness the power of business to create a more sustainable world. It has more than 22 years’ experience helping businesses deliver environmental programmes, working with over 300 clients in 33 countries, including ING, Microsoft, M&S and PwC. It was the first to provide a clear set of guidelines for businesses to achieve carbon neutrality back in 2002, and every year since then it has continued its commitment to providing a robust framework for credible carbon neutral action.

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Which companies are CarbonNeutral® certified?

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Businesses of all sizes, in all sectors and across the world are using The CarbonNeutral Protocol to go carbon neutral and join the growing roster of companies benefitting from credible climate action. Here are some examples

  • $1bn+ revenue: CHEP, Dentons UK & Middle East, Hirdaramani Group, Sky, VMware
  • $100m+ revenue: Eden Springs, Elopak, Fetzer Vineyards, Wessanen UK
  • $10m+ revenue: GreenBiz, Neal’s Yard Remedies

You can read more about these examples at carbonneutral.com/examples

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How do I get further questions answers? Who can I contact to find out more?

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If you have any further questions or want to know more about CarbonNeutral® certification contact us here.

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