Understanding net-zero and it's importance

Here we give you an overview of what net-zero means


To achieve net-zero businesses must reduce their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by at least 90% by 2050. Any remaining emissions that cannot be eliminated (up to a maximum of 10%) must be neutralised using carbon removals.

Follow this link to watch our webinar on 'How to make net-zero possible for your business'.

Why net-zero?

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries across the world are committed to keeping global warming far below 2°C above our pre-industrial levels, whilst trying to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Restricting warming to 1.5°C is a much more ambitious goal, that involves reducing global emissions to net-zero by 2050. Based on current commitments, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, over twice what they should be. We need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year until 2030 in order to achieve 1.5°C of warming.

In order to achieve this the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has published a framework named the SBTi Net-Zero Standard.

What is the SBTi net-zero framework?

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has published a framework named the SBTi Net-Zero Standard. In doing so, the SBTi has provided a clear definition of net-zero and shown how businesses can achieve it.

With a robust framework grounded in climate science, business leaders can now confidently set emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement and take the climate action necessary to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Under the SBTi Net-Zero Standard, corporate net-zero is defined as:

  • Reducing scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions to zero or to a residual level that is consistent with reaching net-zero emissions at the global or sector level in eligible 1.5°C-aligned pathways

  • Neutralising any residual emissions at the net-zero target year and any GHG emissions released into the atmosphere thereafter.

What does a business need to do to achieve net-zero?

The process of getting to net-zero for businesses consists of four key elements:

  1. Near-Term Science-Based Targets – not interchangeable with long-term targets, near-term targets galvanise action and initiate change to make sure that businesses can achieve rapid and significant reductions in emissions (typically 4.2% p.a*) by 2030, in line with climate science.

  2. Long-Term Science-Based Targets – determine how much a company must reduce their value chain emissions to align with limiting warming to 1.5°C. A company cannot claim to be net-zero until the long-term science-based target has been reached (90% reduction in emissions). The deadline for long-term targets is 2050, but more ambitious companies are striving to reach net-zero before this

  3. Beyond Value Chain Mitigation – The SBTi encourages companies to take action and fund projects with climate benefits beyond their value chain. This will help to mitigate GHG emissions and lead to additional benefits for people and the planet in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond value chain mitigation should supplement, rather than replace, a comprehensive decarbonisation strategy – and it can include, for example, funding carbon avoidance or removal projects, nature restoration schemes, research and development, new technologies, and supporting environmental legal defence (amongst others). As a result of funding carbon removal or avoidance projects, a company may become ‘carbon neutral’. However, this is not the end goal, and emissions reduction should be prioritised.

  4. Neutralisation – The SBTi acknowledges that it may not be feasible for some industries to achieve zero emissions and decarbonise 100% of the value chain. As a result, once long-term decarbonisation targets have been reached, companies must use carbon removals to neutralise unavoidable emissions (which must not exceed 10% of overall company emissions against the base year).

Businesses can only claim to be net-zero once they achieved their near-term and long-term targets and used carbon removal credits to neutralise the remaining unavoidable emissions (which must not exceed 10% of overall company emissions against the base year).

How can Ecologi Zero help?

With such a large amount of emissions being generated within your value chain, understanding Scope 3 emissions (along with Scopes 1 and 2) is critical on your pathway to net-zero; that’s why we created Ecologi Zero ®.

To help kick start your carbon footprint understanding, and put you on the path to net-zero, we decided to tackle these tricky value chain emissions first, before moving onto Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Now, using your business transactions, Ecologi Zero will automatically account for your emissions and assign them to the correct scope; giving you a unique insight into your emissions.

Following this, you can input data about your company activities so that Ecologi Zero can provide you with a detailed carbon footprint which allows you to identify emissions hot spots and begin making effective reductions.

You can follow this link to discover an overview of how Ecologi Zero calculates your carbon footprint, or, click here to read the detail behind our methodology.