The CarbonNeutral Protocol

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

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

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

Purpose

The CarbonNeutral Protocol sets out a credible, transparent and practical framework for carbon neutral action. This provides businesses with a pragmatic, business-focused guidance to assure companies that their action is clear and of the highest quality.

Target audience

The CarbonNeutral Protocol is designed for businesses and organisations, technical partners and the wider climate action community.

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For businesses and organisations, the Protocol is there to help readers understand what is required to develop a credible carbon neutral programme and to achieve CarbonNeutral® certification.

For technical partners such as greenhouse gas emissions assessors, it helps ensure what is required of them to ensure their services are consistent with the requirements of each CarbonNeutral® certification.

For the wider climate action community it serves as a resource of high standards for carbon accounting and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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History

Launched in 2002, it is reviewed annually to ensure it reflects the latest developments in emissions measurement and reductions and follows industry, policy and scientific best practice.

Authors

The Protocol is written by Natural Capital Partners and is reviewed annually with input from its Scientific and Technical Advisory Group of business, NGO and scientific experts.

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The CarbonNeutral Protocol is reviewed annually with input from multiple stakeholders. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Group is consulted on development priorities during the annual revision cycle. The development of the subsequent version takes place over the following year, including rounds of consultation with stakeholders. We invite suggestions and all opinions and ideas - from clients and members of the public - will be considered as part of the annual review.

Suggestions for development priorities for subsequent versions of The CarbonNeutral Protocol should be sent to us using the contact form here.

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Approach and principles

The CarbonNeutral Protocol adopts principles of transparency, accuracy, conservative estimation, continual improvement, and wider context.

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The Protocol's approach and principles are here in more detail:

  1. Transparency: Disclose the data, methodologies and assumptions used in GHG calculations and reduction efforts within the bounds of commercial confidentiality
  2. Accuracy: Ensure that the data, methodologies and assumptions used for GHG calculations and reduction efforts are accurate and time-relevant, and that the claims made in connection with such efforts are factual and credible
  3. Conservative estimation: Be conservative when making estimations to ensure that they do not understate GHG impacts nor overstate emissions reductions
  4. Continual improvement: Strive to make continual improvements in GHG accounting and reductions
  5. Wider context: Ensure that CarbonNeutral® programmes and claims are an appropriate response to the wider environmental, social and economic impacts of the subject or organisation

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Contents

The CarbonNeutral Protocol describes the requirements for achieving CarbonNeutral® certification giving organisations a clear framework for achieving carbon neutrality. It details how that can be consistently applied across a broad range of entities, products and activities and also includes case studies of companies.

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The document starts of with a preamble that describes the approach and principles and how it relates to the latest developments. It then sets out a glossary of all terms so that anyone using the document has clarity about the terms being used. Next, it details the steps to achieving CarbonNeutral® certification. Finally, it has a series of technical annexes which provide detailed answers for complicated cases and emissions measurements or reductions.

The document is interspersed with case studies of companies and of emissions reductions projects.

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Use

The Protocol is a publicly available document, so companies can reference it to demonstrate the credibility of their carbon neutral programme. We request permission for its re-publication.