What is the Difference Between Carbon-Neutral, Net-Zero and Climate Positive?

There's no doubt that the world of sustainability contains a lot of jargon. As a scientific area, it's not surprising that this is the case, but it can get pretty confusing. Unless you're an industry expert, how are you meant to understand all of the eco-friendly buzzwords being thrown around? We understand your dilemma, and we're here to help.

One of the most essential and relevant sets of terms at the moment is carbon neutral, net-zero, and climate positive. These are being thrown about all over the place, but what do they mean? Our sustainable timber experts are here to explain. 

How Can Sustainable Timber Help You Become Net Zero?

Using sustainable timber in your civil, marine and building projects is a great way to work towards lowering your carbon emissions or even becoming net-zero! The wood you use will have absorbed plenty of carbon dioxide as it grew, making it a carbon-negative product (it absorbs more carbon than it emits). But if the tree was left in the forest, it would die, rot and release all the CO2 it had absorbed right back into the atmosphere. 

You can stop that from happening by incorporating our dense timber into your projects – this is called carbon sinking and is one of the best ways to help fight climate change. Sourced from sustainably managed forests, it's a great way to use building materials that lower your project’s carbon footprint.

What Does Net Zero Mean?

Net-zero is a term that's been used a lot in the news recently. Our government (and many others) have rolled out plans to become net-zero by 2050 to limit the amount the global temperature is likely to rise. But what is net-zero?

Essentially, net-zero means reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases (such as carbon, methane and others) to the lowest possible amount – and then offsetting the rest as a last resort. This is very difficult to reach. Systems need to be very carefully designed to reduce and avoid any emissions so that there’s very little to offset. 


One of the most common ways to remove, or offset, carbon emissions is by planting new trees, since trees suck carbon from the atmosphere as they grow – something we at Ecochoice are very supportive of! Other ways include peat and mangrove restoration – all of which can be part of comprehensive rewilding projects.

What Does Carbon Neutral Mean?

Carbon neutral refers to situations where no net CO2e is released into the atmosphere – key to this is the word net. Notice that unlike net-zero, this goal with carbon neutrality is to not increase emissions but to remain at current levels while trying to balance any emissions through offsetting. It can refer to the carbon footprint of products, people, countries and even the entire planet, just as net-zero can. 

What Does Climate Positive Mean?

Climate positive goes beyond carbon neutral and net-zero. Rather than aiming for zero emissions, your actions have a positive impact. The final result is removing carbon and other dangerous gases from the atmosphere: a positive contribution to the planet’s total carbon budget! 

For example, on top of getting to net-zero, you may do work to help educate others in your supply chain about the positives of switching to renewable energy. Or maybe you create sustainable alternatives to everyday products that help users lower their carbon footprint. Being climate positive is all about making decisions that don't just lower your emissions but also the emissions of those around you.

Do Your Bit With Sustainable Timber

If you're looking for sustainable timber for your next project, our team at EcoChoice can help. We only stock eco-friendly timber and have a wide range from which to choose what is right for you. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our team today, and we'll be more than happy to lend a hand. 


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