is net zero just a buzzword?

I’ve been around long enough to have seen a few fads come and go in the environmental sector. I might have got into bins because of the fact that plastic in the oceans was killing leatherback turtles. But back then, recycling was all about saving trees. Now it’s about being carbon net-zero.

In recent years we’ve seen companies go plastic-free, declare climate emergencies, join climate rebellions, move to one-planet living, go climate neutral, and carbon neutral. More recently, it’s been all about going carbon net-zero. All these different terms deal with one simple fact: modern living damages the planet’s ecosystems to such an extent that future generations will not be able to enjoy the same standard of living.

where does carbon net-zero come from?

The Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 at COP21 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 196 countries agreed to keep global average temperature rises to less than 2 degrees and to limit that increase to 1.5 degrees. Ideally, thius is the level at which we think we can handle the impacts of climate change. We’ve been talking about this since Kyoto was signed back in 1997 and since then global emissions have increased. In Paris, it was agreed that the only way to meet these targets was to be net-zero carbon emission by mid-century. The UK has led the way in being the first country to put this into law, and so companies are following suit. (Whether or not you think we’ll make it is another matter).

However, being net-zero something is just a sum; add something, take something else away and make sure the result is zero. When we talk about climate change, some take it to mean carry on as normal, do some offsetting and hope the net result is no extra carbon being released. Unfortunately, while the market price of carbon is still low, it is easy for some companies to offset business as usual and greenwash it as something positive. Or net zero.

What are we doing?

At Binit we want to be clear that for us, and for other responsible companies that we work with and support, net-zero means reducing our carbon impact first and foremost. We are working now on calculating our Scope 1 and 2 emissions so we can set ambitious reduction targets by 2025. Scope 3 is harder, as anyone who has tried to calculate them will know! However, we’re working on a plan to reduce these too and while we’re doing this, we will offset. But offsetting is the temporary sticking plaster, it’s not healing the cut. As far as I’m concerned, even when we are net zero, we’re still bleeding. And the bleeding won’t stop till we stop using fossil fuels altogether. If we can’t do that, then there ain’t enough space on this one planet to plant all the trees that will be needed to stop climate change. 

Is net zero a buzzword? Can I ‘cop’ out and say it depends on who uses it and how? After all, it’s not what you say, but what you do that counts. 

Want help in going net zero? Give us a shout.