A road sign with the sky as a backdrop. The sign has CO2 crossed out with a red line

Carbon: When Negative is Positive

Carbon negative? Climate positive? Or was it Carbon Positive? Even after 10 years working in sustainable business I still find myself getting these terms confused.

Here's a quick run down on the terms in case you're also getting your positives and negatives mixed up!

Carbon Zero - 100% of CO2 emissions produced have been measured and offset. For example if a organisation emits 100 kg of carbon, then they've paid to offset 100 kg of carbon. This is the same as Carbon Neutral or Net Carbon Zero.

Carbon Negative - CO2 emissions have been measured and more carbon has been offset than produced. For example the organisation emits 100 kg of carbon but pays to offset 120 kg. This is also called Climate Positive.

Carbon Positive - this term isn't used very often because it's the state of business as usual. It means that the person or organisation produces some carbon emissions. In this case 'positive' is negative for the climate!

Carbon Footprint  - this is a measurement of how much carbon an activity produces. Knowing your carbon footprint is the first step to reducing it.

What about Carbon Free?

 If only this was a thing, then everything would be ok! All goods, services and activities produce carbon at some stage of their lifecycle so nothing is carbon-free. We found this carbon-free icon when looking for an image to illustrate this blog.

Actual certifications to look out for are either carbon zero (have offset 100% of emissions) or climate positive (have offset 120% of emissions). 


Back to blog

Leave a comment