How can I get a carbon neutral certificate?

How to get carbon neutral certification in 4 steps, including who provides certification and the choices you need to make.
June 12, 2020
Why all the fuss? We know climate change is a big issue. We also know that to prevent it from worsening, we need to quickly reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

To do this, businesses should focus on reducing their carbon footprint. When they are not able to reduce carbon emissions any further, they can offset emissions to ‘cancel out’ their negative impact and achieve net zero emissions.

What is a carbon neutral certification?

A company can obtain a carbon neutral certification in Australia and internationally by carrying out the following:

  1. Measure carbon footprint
  2. Reduce 
  3. Offset
  4. Communicate

Once a company has proven that all of its greenhouse gases are offset, it is considered to have achieved carbon neutrality. 

How carbon neutral do you want to be?

A business needs to work out what type of climate commitment it wants to make. The strongest display of positive climate action is to make your entire organisation carbon neutral. If it is not feasible to certify your entire organisation, it is possible to certify just part of your organisation such as your:

  • Events
  • Buildings
  • Precincts, or
  • Products and services.

Who provides carbon neutral certifications?

Certification providers
Certification is provided by a range of public and private organisations.  

Large companies: For large (often publicly listed) companies that are likely to face public scrutiny when making climate-related claims, certification generally involves complex carbon lifecycle assessments to be undertaken. Large company certifications are therefore often provided by public bodies such as Australia’s Climate Active (which is an Australian government administered carbon neutral certification). For an entity to be certified by Climate Active it must meet the requirements of the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard (formerly called the National Carbon Offset Standard).

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs): For small companies that want to credibly achieve net zero emissions, there are public and private organisations that offer carbon neutral certifications. Pathzero streamlines and simplifies emission measurement and offers Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard carbon credits][Link to 4th blog when ready]. That’s how small businesses are leading the charge to carbon neutrality

Four steps to become carbon neutral certified

Regardless of which carbon neutral certification provider you opt to use, four steps need to be taken to attain a certification:

Step 1: Measure 

First work out the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with your operations. This means adding together emissions from all business activities and sources, including indirect sources such as transport fuels.

Step 2: Reduce 

Create your strategy

Once your carbon footprint is measured, you should develop and implement a plan to reduce your carbon emissions.  Some carbon neutral certification providers like Pathzero provide you with a carbon reduction plan for your business, in line with your budget and climate goals over time.

Reducing emissions

Where possible, take action to implement changes and new company policies, such as reducing business travel, energy use, or purchasing renewable energy etc.

Step 3: Offset 

Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsets (also known as carbon credits) can be purchased to offset or ‘cancel out’ carbon emissions that cannot be reduced. The purchase of these carbon offsets funds sustainable projects which reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

There are a number of carbon credit providers, but check your provider offers [verified offsets][link to article 4] to ensure a genuine emission reduction.

Offset projects

Projects can occur within Australia and internationally and include reforestation and re-vegetation, agricultural land management, renewable energy projects and more.

Consider buying offsets in projects that align with your business values. For example, organisations wanting to support Indigenous communities may look to offset through projects that involve Indigenous people in northern Australia.

Verification

Some certification processes will require you to arrange independent verification of your carbon footprint. This may include arranging a source data audit when you apply for certification, and periodic technical assessments thereafter. The rigour of verification can differ based on organisational size, the volume of emissions and company type.

Most businesses use a combination of actively reducing emissions and carbon offsetting to achieve net zero emissions. Every business is different. How you decide to achieve net zero emissions is the unique story you can share with your community. 

Step 4: Communicate

Organisations going carbon neutral can share their climate commitment with key stakeholders in a number of ways.

Public disclosure

Some carbon neutral certification providers will require you to produce a publicly available disclosure summary which outlines your emission sources, emission reduction strategy and carbon offset projects. 

Trademark

Some certification providers will enter into a licence agreement with you which allows the use of their ‘carbon neutral trademark’. This can be placed on products as proof of climate action.


Website badge

Alternatively, some certification providers give you digital badges which can be used to clearly display your carbon neutral status on your website, emails and social media. Attention-grabbing tools like this can be a simple yet powerful way to communicate your climate action.

Your path to net zero

Pathzero has a number of registered consultants to assist organisations through the carbon neutral certification process.

We recognise that measuring and verifying carbon emissions can be time-consuming and complicated, especially for small businesses. That’s why we’ve developed a carbon emission calculator which uses smart algorithms that quickly measure carbon emissions so you don’t have to spend days analysing your carbon footprint.

Pathzero provides a website badge and platform to effectively and credibly communicate your carbon neutral status and climate achievements. Try the Pathzero carbon footprint measurement tool today.