How to become a net zero business

What is a net zero business?


Net zero is a recent addition to the terminology around global warming, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s important to understand what net zero means to industry and small businesses.

What does net zero mean for business?

Becoming a net zero business means that your business activities and your value chain have no net impact on the climate from your greenhouse gas emissions.

To get involved and take action towards becoming a net zero business, you should focus on four main areas:

  • minimising your own emissions
  • reducing emissions in your supply chain
  • integrating climate action into your business strategy
  • working to promote climate action across society

In line with international commitments, under the Paris Agreement, to limit global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, businesses should aim to:

  • halve their emissions by 2030
  • reduce their emissions to close to zero before 2050

Find out more about how to set net zero targets for your business.

Any remaining emissions which cannot be eliminated from your business activities (ideally no more than ten per cent of your base year emissions) should be offset.

Is carbon offsetting a way to reach net zero?

Carbon offsetting means greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced somewhere else, by someone else, to make up for continued emissions from your business.

Offsetting is a recommended way to bridge the gap to full net zero where a small percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from your business cannot yet be eliminated. This should be through funding high quality and permanent carbon removal projects, which are approved by a recognised certification organisation.

However, carbon offsetting is not a substitute for cutting emissions from your business. Transferring your climate responsibility elsewhere while continuing to pump out greenhouse gases could be considered greenwashing - when your business falsely gives the impression it is addressing climate responsibility.

Introduction to net zero for businesses

The Carbon Trust has recorded an introductory webinar on net zero for businesses which can help you understand more about the concepts and terminology.