A carbon neutral verification demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to decarbonisation as you cut your organisational or product footprint year on year and compensate for any remaining emissions through the purchase of high quality carbon offsets.
The road to Net Zero
Businesses play a critical role in accelerating the Net Zero transition. In addition to the essential task of setting and delivering Net Zero targets, good quality offsets are a key present-day supplement to emissions reductions aligned to a 1.5˚C pathway, and will continue to have an important role in the future.
What is a carbon neutral footprint?
Carbon neutral footprint verification sets out requirements for quantification and reduction of emissions reviewing both retrospective and forward-looking emissions. *
For products, the retrospective element means that the company producing the products has a measured and verified cradle-to-grave footprint of the product produced over the 12 month application period, has demonstrated year-on-year reduction in product emissions , and the company has purchased high-quality carbon offsets to cover the residual emissions associated with its lifecycle impact. The forward-looking element means the company has a validated carbon management plan in which it has provided details on how it will reduce the product footprint, and with the commitment to recertify to carbon neutral and purchase offsets for the verification period (i.e. the 12-month period following the application period). This forward-looking commitment is part of the verification process, is aligned to PAS 2060, and allows the company to claim that its products produced during the verification period, are carbon neutral. *
For organisations, the retrospective element means that the company has a measured and verified organisational footprint over a 12-month application period, has demonstrated year-on-year reduction across the boundary **, and the company has purchased high-quality carbon offsets to cover the emissions associated with the company’s operations covered by the chosen boundary. The forward-looking element means the company has a validated carbon management plan in which it has provided details on how it will reduce the organisational footprint, and with the commitment to recertify to carbon neutral and purchase offsets for the verification period (i.e. the 12-month period following the application period). This forward-looking commitment is part of the verification process, is aligned to PAS 2060, and allows the company to claim that its organisation during the verification period, is carbon neutral across the chosen boundary. *
The carbon neutral verification demonstrates an organisation’s ongoing commitment to carbon reduction, and the compensation of remaining emissions through the purchase of high quality offsets.
What is PAS 2060?
PAS 2060 is the internationally recognised specification for carbon neutrality published by BSI. It sets out the requirements for quantifying, reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for organisations and products.
In order to achieve the verification, a company must:
- Measure and verify the footprint within a clearly defined boundary (for example, the lifecycle of a product, or minimum Scope 1 and 2 for organsations).
- Develop a qualifying explanatory statement (QES) including:
- A statement of commitment
- A timescale for achievement
- A carbon management plan and targets for GHG reductions
- A credible plan backed by investment to achieve ongoing emissions reductions to reduce reliance on offsets over time
- Purchase high quality offsets such as Gold Standard, VCS and Woodland Code UK to compensate for all remaining emissions.
- Demonstrate year on year reductions.
Benefits of carbon neutral verification for your business
- Demonstrate your ongoing commitment to decarbonisation goals and the actions you are taking to achieve them
- Monitor your progress through an annual verification review
- Create and iterate a forward looking carbon management plan for your organisation or product
- Start to internalise a carbon price to encourage decarbonisation
- Contribute to global decarbonisation efforts by reducing emissions and supporting high-quality environmental projects
How we can help
We verify organisations, products, and selected Scope 3 categories in accordance with PAS 2060.
Carbon neutral verification for organisations
The Carbon Trust verifies organisations when they have:
- A robustly measured and verified footprint,
- A commitment to reducing year-on-year emissions evidenced in a carbon reduction plan, and
- Offset their remaining footprint with high quality carbon offsets.
Upon reverification, you must demonstrate the actual carbon reductions made to retain carbon neutral verification. The carbon neutral label can then be used to help you communicate your decarbonisation journey.
Carbon neutral verification for products
The Carbon Trust verifies products as carbon neutral when they have:
- A robustly measured and verified footprint,
- Verified historical year-on-year reductions (for established products)
- A commitment to year-on-year emissions reductions evidenced in a carbon reduction plan, and
- Offset their remaining product footprint with high quality carbon offsets.
‘Carbon neutral’ label
Our ‘footprint’ label with a carbon neutral scope shows that the product footprint is achieving ongoing reductions, and any outstanding emissions are offset, in accordance with PAS 2060.
The verification is valid for one year, after which the product must be re-verified if it is to continue to use the label. Re-verification requires evidence that reductions have been achieved in the preceding period in both absolute and relative terms.
We advise clients that all products carrying this label must provide clear additional information about how it was achieved on the product where possible and through their own communications channels to ensure the highest degree of transparency.
We have recently reviewed (2023) and revised the Carbon Trust Product Carbon Footprint usage guidelines to ensure increased clarity and transparency. We regularly review consumer and market regulation and insights, and update our labels and guidelines accordingly. Therefore, it may be possible that some of the older versions of labels still appear on products in the market. In the interest of limiting waste, packaging with the old labels will run its course before new labels are implemented.
Find out more about product carbon footprint labelling.
What is the difference between carbon neutrality and Net Zero?
Boundary: Carbon neutrality has a minimum requirement of covering Scope 1 and 2 emissions, while Scope 3 is encouraged. Net Zero must cover Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
Level of ambition: An organisation does not need to cut its emissions in line with a certain trajectory to be carbon neutral, however year on year reductions must be demonstrated. To be Net Zero, an organisation does not need to show year on year reductions but must reduce its emissions from it’s baseline year along a 1.5˚C trajectory across Scope 1, 2 and 3.
Approach to residual emissions: To achieve carbon neutrality, an organisation must purchase carbon offsets yearly that either result in carbon reductions, efficiencies, or sinks to the sum of residual emissions after reductions have been made. For Net Zero, an organisation must purchase additional GHG removals in the target year that either remove or store carbon.
How can carbon neutrality help us achieve Net Zero?
Net Zero is a transformational, long-term commitment. Carbon neutrality can be an important stepping stone on the journey to Net Zero by requiring commitments to decarbonise year on year. In addition, businesses and organisations can play a vital role in reaching Net Zero and accelerating the transition, by investing in mitigation actions beyond their value chains.
Why the Carbon Trust?
We are the world’s leading independent verification body for carbon footprints. Our verification process follows the only internationally recognised carbon neutral specification, PAS 2060, a standard which was developed by BSI.
We ensure your carbon accounting and carbon management plans are robust, and your purchased offsets are credible. We only accept offsets which are deemed as high quality as outlined in the PAS2060 guidance, such as the Gold Standard or VCS. For a full list, please get in touch.
* In the case of new-to-world products (as there is no historical data to carry out a retrospective analysis by definition), only current emissions will be measured, and forward-looking reduction plans will be assessed and validated
** In the case of recertifications only.