Defining Net-Zero and Climate Recommendations for Carbon Offsetting

Quintin George Rayer, Stuart Jenkins, Pete Walton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) requires net-zero human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to stabilize the climate. As achieving zero emissions is unrealistic, offsetting is necessary to achieve net-zero (emissions minus offsets). Organizations need to become carbon-neutral, both by reducing emissions and by removing atmospheric CO2. However, much of the language used in discourse surrounding carbon-neutrality and net-zero is vague; more rigorous definitions are required. Currently, emissions are “neutralized” through “deemed offsets,” which can include GHG sinks, reductions, and allowance schemes. Metrics are employed to determine offsetting amounts.
We extend current practice using a “do no harm” principle to better account for different GHGs’ climate impacts. We examine emissions reduction and the appropriate use of offsetting, including challenges such as carbon storage robustness. We illustrate these guidelines using the PAS 2060 carbon-neutrality standard.
In summary, while offsetting is required for climate stabilization, schemes differ in their capacity to halt AGW. High-quality offsetting is required to stabilize warming; we discuss key physical considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBusiness and Policy Solutions to Climate Change
EditorsThomas Walker, Stefan Wendt, Sherif Goubran, Tyler Schwartz
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-86803-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-86802-4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Sustainable Business in Association with Future Earth
ISSN (Print)2662-1320
ISSN (Electronic)2662-1339

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Net-zero
  • Carbon-neutral
  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • GWP
  • GHG metrics


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