The CarbonNeutral Protocol Index

The Five Steps to Achieving CarbonNeutral Certification

Application of a grace period

Following publication of a new version of The CarbonNeutral Protocol, a grace period is permitted for organizations which hold active CarbonNeutral® certification, to adapt to new requirements.

The grace period allows for a deferral in incorporating any new requirements introduced in the latest revision to The CarbonNeutral Protocol until the next renewal date of the certification period. The grace period extends until the publication of the subsequent version of The CarbonNeutral Protocol, which is approximately 12 months, and can be applied to certification renewals that begin within this period of time.

Where an organization has been awarded a certification type which does not have a defined period and expiry, such as a CarbonNeutral event, the grace period is permitted where a certification of the same type was awarded within the 12 months prior to the publication of the current version of The CarbonNeutral Protocol. All organizations are highly encouraged to adopt new requirements immediately, where they are able to do so.

Scheduled changes which have been published and communicated in previous versions of The CarbonNeutral Protocol may not be deferred. This restriction is in place because the intention of the grace period is solely to allow organizations to adapt to previously unknown changes to The CarbonNeutral Protocol and should not be used merely to delay action.

Table 2 shows illustrative examples of the application of the grace period, and allowances for small and medium enterprises.

Table 2: Illustrative Examples of the Application of the Grace Period and Allowance for Small Companies

Allowances for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

Measuring and reporting on sustainability can be a challenge for any organization.

For small companies, which often have more limited resources, this is especially true. As a result, organizations which hold active certification and are considered an SME, will be permitted one year to comply with the new requirements implemented within this version of The CarbonNeutral Protocol, in addition to the grace period specified above. Illustrative examples of the application of the grace period for SMEs are shown in Table 2.

There is not currently one generally recognized definition of what constitutes an SME. Different regulatory agencies and standards around the world maintain different definitions. In order to take advantage of the additional year available to comply with updated requirements, organizations should evaluate themselves as an SME only under an appropriate and aligned standard. For example, an EU-based organization may consider the requirements of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) the most appropriate due to geographic alignment and their existing classification for regulatory ESG reporting.

Commonly used and accepted definitions of SMEs are shown in Table 1. This list is not exhaustive, so organizations operating outside of these regions should use local regulatory or other relevant, recognized frameworks.

Image: Bondhu Chula Cookstoves, Bangladesh: The Bondhu Chula stove is designed to ensure more efficient and cleaner home cooking, working with micro-entrepreneurs who receive training in stove production, sales and marketing and after-sales service.

Table 1: Commonly Used and Accepted Definitions of SMEs

The Five Steps to Achieving CarbonNeutral® Certification

As illustrated in Figure 1, there are five steps to achieving CarbonNeutral® certification. These five steps are mandatory for all classes of certification. While these steps are set out sequentially, they may be carried out in parallel.

Foundation: Governance
The systems and frameworks by which the organization is directed and controlled that support responsible climate action and intentional risk management.