The Business of Climate: Definitions

Return to Blog

Dear Colleagues,

As the year progresses, businesses and organizations are reaching out to understand what action they can take to help the planet. Many have asked us about ‘carbon neutrality’— and rightly so as the definition of this term is in flux.

The terms ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ have been the terminology used for describing sustainability practices using offsets for the past 20 years. However, times are changing and so a claim can be made. Scientists are becoming more specific about the requirements associated with those terms, but these requirements are causing unintended consequences in the market.

Let’s start with the definitions. Currently, scientists associated with the IPCC have defined the following:
  • Climate Neutral: A state in which human activities result in no net effect on the climate system (all GHGs + radiative forcing).
  • Net Zero: When carbon emissions (including emissions beyond carbon dioxide) are balanced by anthropogenic removals over a specified period of time (all GHGs).
  • Carbon Neutral or Net Zero CO2: When anthropogenic CO2 emissions are balanced globally by anthropogenic CO2 removal over a specified period of time.
  • Carbon Negative: When a business removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it generates (Forbes).

Whether these definitions will apply to offsetting, in general, is still under consideration. This is extremely important because credits that meet the strict scientific definition of ‘removals’ required for ‘carbon neutrality’ or ‘net zero’ are in short supply.

The climate crisis is an urgent problem and the IPCC also says, ‘don’t wait.’ Cool Effect certainly agrees. We all need to take action now in whatever way we can to reduce our emissions including switching to renewable energy and supporting all types of high-quality offsets.

As this continues to unfold, we are here to help determine which path is right for your business. Write to us anytime at

Be safe, Jodi Manning VP, Director of Marketing and Partnerships Cool Effect, Inc.

Be safe,

Jodi Manning

VP, Director of Marketing and Partnerships

Cool Effect, Inc.