The CarbonNeutral Protocol Index

Step 3: Target

The third step is to confirm a target of carbon neutral GHG emissions for the period of the certification to be delivered through internal abatement of GHG emissions and the retirement of environmental instruments to compensate for unabated emissions. The aim is to ensure clients get business value from clear, ambitious and immediate action on carbon emissions, and effective and efficient emissions reductions are stimulated by the presence of a carbon neutral target.


As illustrated by Figure 2, the client must commit to an overall target of carbon neutral GHG emissions for the subject during the certification period.

For all subjects, the client should set an internal abatement target to ensure the subject’s gross or actual emissions decrease over time. The target may be expressed as an absolute GHG emission reduction or as a decrease in GHG intensity.

Absolute GHG reduction targets compare total GHG emissions in the target year to those in a base year (e.g. reduce CO2e by 25 percent below 2015 levels by 2025). GHG intensity targets are expressed as a ratio of emissions relative to a business metric (e.g. reduce CO2e by 25 percent per full-time employee by 2025). Absolute GHG reduction targets should be given preference over GHG intensity targets whenever possible.

For more about approaches to setting abatement targets see Guidance 3.3.

Clients with an annual footprint above 100,000 tCO2e (as defined by the CarbonNeutral company certification) must have set one of the internal abatement strategies and/or targets set out in Technical Specification 3.1 in order to receive a CarbonNeutral® certification. This applies even if the subject of the certification is less than 100,000 tCO2e. This threshold is set to reduce annually by 10,000 tCO2e, starting in 2024. This Technical Specification will be reviewed annually to ensure that it reflects
best practice in target setting for internal abatement.

Any internal abatement targets must be specified in a client’s CarbonNeutral® Certification Target and Reduce Form Technical Specification 3.2).

While targets may be extended to net zero (see Guidance 3.4), carbon (or climate, or net) positive (see Guidance 3.5), or to the other impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the CarbonNeutral certification applies only to neutrality as defined in the Protocol.

Figure 2: Emissions Profile for Subject of CarbonNeutral® Certification