What does it mean to be carbon neutral?

Do you know what it really means to be Carbon Neutral? 

You must have heard the term used a lot over the last few years, but how do we achieve full carbon neutrality? We recently collaborated with One Tribe, our climate action partner, to tell you what it is all about, and how we are using rainforest projects to become carbon neutral. . .

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In June 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced epic plans to make the entire company 100% carbon neutral. Saying the team would get it done by the end of the decade. That commitment made for a very ambitious roadmap that unveiled Apple’s plan to achieve net zero across the business. The announcement then followed suit from other tech giants like Amazon - which had already set its own carbon-neutral goal for 2040 - and Microsoft, who plan to remove more carbon than they emit by 2030.
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'Carbon Neutral'

First, you’ll need to understand what carbon neutral means. Carbon neutrality refers to the balance between carbon emissions and carbon sequestration (carbon sequestration happens when carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored). Put simply, any carbon dioxide a company releases into the atmosphere — from activities such as energy production, transportation, and manufacturing — would also need to be removed for the business to be considered “carbon neutral”.

Why is carbon important to understand?

Carbon isn’t all bad. It makes up the basic building blocks of all organic life, from plants and animals, to soil and human beings. Much of our planet’s carbon is found in rocks and sediment. The remainder can be found stored inside living and dead organisms; in the ocean, as organic matter in the soil, and in the atmosphere. All of which are known as carbon “sinks”. When we talk about climate change, we often are talking about greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2) - the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. The main issue being that, while carbon is naturally part of our atmosphere, too much of it is toxic to both us and the planet. In 2019, carbon dioxide accounted for around 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States. Fortunately, natural resources (like the ocean and rainforests) can store and remove this carbon from the atmosphere before it reaches toxic levels.

Where is the most carbon being stored?

The ocean alone holds about 50 times more carbon than the Earth’s atmosphere. And fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are essentially vast storage reservoirs that hold carbon from decomposed organisms that lived and died millions of years ago.The carbon cycle is sped up when humans burn fossil fuels from their cars or factories. Likewise, carbon stored in trees is also released quickly when said trees are cut down (the rate of deforestation between 2015 and 2020 was estimated at 10 million hectares per year). As a result of human activity, the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere has dramatically exceeded safe levels and our natural resources are struggling to keep up with balancing carbon emissions as CO2 levels continue to rise.

Climate change is a global problem

According to the Global Carbon Project an estimated 36.4 billion tonnes of fossil carbon emissions were produced in 2021.

And when it comes to achieving carbon neutrality, recognize that there's a global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees or a limit for us and industries to emit carbon or GHG resulting from our activities. Of course, we can't keep emitting more and more carbon into the atmosphere and then think of its sequestration by all means possible.
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Sea levels could rise by an additional one to three feet

By the year 2100, the IPCC also estimates that sea levels could rise by an additional one to three feet, putting millions of people living along coastlines at risk and making many small island nations virtually uninhabitable. Higher global temperatures may also lead to drought, disrupting agriculture and exacerbating hunger or poverty. Stabilizing the crucial threshold of 1.5°C warming is still possible, but only through immediate and drastic global action.
Carbon offsetting helps make up for when emissions can’t be easily reduced
We are not in a position to completely eliminate the CO2 and other GHG emissions resulting from all our activities on earth - especially the Scope 3 emissions. Only Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are something on which we can work upon.

Scope 1 emissions are the emissions resulting directly from company activities. Eg. production and company vehicles. Scope 2 emissions are emissions resulting from electricity use for example. Since these emissions are not happening on-site, these are indirect emissions but are still in control of an organization. Scope 3 emissions are also indirect emissions but organizations have little to no control over them. Eg. emissions from employee commute and supply chain activities.
How carbon offsetting works
Carbon offset projects range from protecting oceans and forests and vulnerable communities to investments in sustainable agriculture and green power technology. This has made it easier than ever before to find a cause that aligns with individual or corporate values.
Can we offset carbon around the world?
It really is possible that each and everyone of us can offset our personal carbon. To get the job done it is essential that we work with the planet to help maintain and contain carbon emissions and reduce our carbon footprint. If we can avoid reaching toxic levels of carbon dioxide, we will reduce the risk of flooding, tornadoes and other detrimental weather. We will become less affected by infectious diseases spurred by toxic levels of carbon dioxide. And we will be able to function more efficiently than ever before.

If you’re asking what it means to be carbon neutral then the answer is to take responsibility for man-made carbon emissions. Then work as hard as you can to neutralize as many of your personal carbon emissions/activities as possible, and the businesses you work at, whilst buying from brands that are on the same mission as you. Doing your part to offset your collective carbon footprints and doing your duty to our natural world.
We are partners with One Tribe, a Climate Action initiative that helps businesses improve their carbon footprint and grow more sustainably. - One Tribe
One Tribe is empowering us to make carbon footprint improvements, every purchase you make with us is helping to protect our planet. All purchases through the store generate a micro-donation, which protects 5 trees and stores almost 2500 kilos of carbon. These donations are then combined from all participating members of One Tribe. The funds are paid directly to One Tribe’s conservation partners every month, funding rainforest projects in the Amazon rainforest and other important forests around the world.


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