Moving Beyond Carbon Neutral
In previous blog posts, I talk about what it means to be carbon neutral. I also discuss how one can achieve carbon neutrality through mitigation and carbon offsets. But what if I told you there was something beyond carbon neutral? That you could go even further in offsetting the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emissions?
A manufactured product can claim carbon neutrality.
This is done by making sure every component and process used in manufacturing the product is 100 percent carbon-neutral. Similarly, by purchasing carbon offset credits equivalent to the remaining percentage to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality. For example, a company has done as much mitigation as possible to reduce the carbon footprint of the product it manufactures. Thus, making as many adjustments as possible in the entire cradle-to-gate manufacturing process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through this mitigation, a company might achieve 70 percent carbon neutrality for that product. This is calculated using the ICEMAN mechanism, meaning the product has a Carbon Factor Index of 70. Then, the company can go to the carbon offset market and purchase carbon offsets equivalent to the remaining 30 percent. Thus, having certification of 100 percent carbon-neutral, or CFI 100.
A company can go even further.
A manufactured product or business operation could have a Carbon Factor Index greater than 100. How? By offsetting more carbon emissions than are produced by the cradle-to-gate manufacturing of the product or business operation.
If the business participates in carbon capture or carbon sequestration projects, or any other program that mitigates greenhouse gasses, they may be able to offset more than the emissions they have created. For example, there is a family farm in Georgia that collects manure from cattle and puts it into an anaerobic digester. Thus converting that biomaterial into biogas. They use that biogas to run a generator. It produces electricity, which they use to power the farm. That biomass would otherwise release methane into the atmosphere. Therefore, by removing it and putting it into the anaerobic digester, the farm sequesters and captures that greenhouse gas. Subsequently turning it into a renewable source of energy. If the farm removes more greenhouse gasses than it produces in its operations, it will be over 100 percent carbon neutral.
Carbon credit offsets.
In the event that a business does not have carbon capture or carbon sequestration projects—or if those projects don’t exceed the carbon emissions created by the manufacture of a product—a company can purchase carbon credit offsets. Similarly, if the company purchases carbon offsets greater than the carbon emissions created by the manufacture of the product, then it can exceed 100 percent carbon neutrality, earning a CFI of over 100.
A Carbon Factor Index value higher than 100 can be a terrific marketing tool. It can offer a competitive advantage for companies. With a CFI greater than 100, the company can boast, “This product is not only 100 carbon neutral; it is beyond carbon neutral! Not only does the manufacturing of this product not add any greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere; it actually helps remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.” Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about the impact of products and services on climate change. Therefore, a product that isn’t harmful to the environment and is actually beneficial to the environment, will have a natural advantage in the marketplace. All while also actively helping to combat the climate crisis.
Want to read more about what’s possible with a consumer-centric, competitive advantage-based solution to the climate crisis? Check out my book, Decarbonize the World today!