About Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutrality is defined as achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released (carbon footprint) with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset.

Definition of Carbon Footprint: The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community. Various methodologies can be used to calculate carbon footprint:

Definition of Carbon Offset: Carbon offsetting is the use of carbon credits to enable businesses to compensate for their emissions, meet their carbon reduction goals and support the move to a low carbon economy.  Businesses compensate for their environmental impact in order to meet increasing stakeholder pressure and are able to demonstrate leadership, differentiate from competitors and engage internal and external stakeholders in their action.

Methodologies used to calculate carbon credits: Depending on the type of emission reduction project, various methodologies are available.

The CDM was developed as a carbon standard in 1997 following the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Credits – or Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) – are generated through emissions reduction projects in the developing world and are largely used by countries with Kyoto emissions caps to meet their targets. Projects are qualified through a rigorous, public registration and issuance process which ensures emissions reductions are real, measurable, verifiable and additional to a ‘business as usual’ scenario.

The VCS is a robust, global standard for voluntary carbon offset projects. Formerly known as The Voluntary Carbon Standard, it was founded in 2006 by The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association, the World Economic Forum and later joined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The VCS programme ensures all carbon credits are real, measurable, additional, permanent, independently verified, unique and traceable. All approved projects are registered in the VCS’ online registry, ensuring a transparent chain of custody, from issuance through to retirement. Some of the largest opportunities for emission reductions lie in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use sector (AFOLU). Under VCS, projects are issued unique carbon credits known as Verified Carbon Units or VCUs. Each VCU represents a reduction or removal of one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

The Gold Standard Foundation is a non-profit organisation which operates a carbon standard certification scheme for both Kyoto based CDM and Voluntary market credits. The Gold Standard trademark represents premium quality carbon credits which have actively contributed to sustainable development. The Gold Standard focuses on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Waste Management, Land Use & Forest, and Sustainable Water projects. All certified credits have undergone rigorous third-party validation and verification.  All approved projects must be registered in the Gold Standard online registry, ensuring a transparent chain of custody, from issuance through to retirement.

Plan Vivo connects rural communities to the voluntary carbon market, by providing resource-poor communities with a robust and pragmatic framework to access the voluntary carbon market, and markets for other ecosystem services such as biodiversity and watershed services. The Standard is designed to ensure that Plan Vivo projects benefit livelihoods, enhance ecosystems and protect biodiversity.

Key features of the Standard include increased emphasis on meaningful participation and ownership by communities, its suitability for landscape-level payment for ecosystem (PES) schemes, and the ability to certify projects generating non-carbon ecosystem services.

Where a member organisation is carbon neutral as a result of offsets that are purchased from any project that is accredited under the following processes and which has been registered as an offset project under the Carbon Protocol of South Africa.