Carbon neutral means balancing the carbon emissions of a production by removing from the atmosphere an equivalent amount produced. Eg. by planting trees or investing in renewable-energy projects.
In contrast, net-zero carbon takes a step further towards actively reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the first place, as well as then also offsetting the amount of emissions.
Eg. a carbon neutral event could be offsetting the carbon emissions from an onsite event, while a net-zero carbon event may turn that onsite event into a virtual event in order to radically reduce the amount of carbon emissions.
Only 10% of carbon mitigated or offset equals a true net zero carbon event
There are a few great tools out there to better breakdown the carbon footprint of an event. This will provide you with a better understanding of the aspects and areas that produce the most carbon emissions in your event. This will then allow you to see where some changes or alternative could be made to reduce emissions, as well as how many emissions will need to be offset.
We recommend our own Happily calculator to estimate how much you can reduce by going virtual. And this one here from the My Climate organization is ideal for onsite events.
This will be important for number 4 below… However, you may find that this will allow a better understanding of the impact of emissions in a metric that is more accessible and commonplace to process. You can also compare an amount to a more easily digestible and relatable situation.
Eg. “.... that amount of emissions is equivalent to 20 non-stop flights from London to New York.”
This is the amount of carbon captured from a newly planted tree in one year. So dividing by 25 will give you an estimate on how many trees would need to be planted to offset the amount of emissions produced, creating a carbon neutral event.
Please note that there is an important distinction of carbon captured from the mature tree compared to a newly planted young tree.
Working with a dedicated reforestation partner, such as Forest Nation or other nonprofits certified to plant trees, will ensure an efficient and professionalized system for offsetting your carbon emissions.
These organizations will also act as stewards for your growing forest, which is important to ensure your trees continue to grow for years to come and contribute to a thriving biodiversity in the area. These reforestation programs should also positively impact the local economy and people by providing firetrade jobs and regenerating the landscape in the community. You can check out our own Happily Forest here and be inspired.
A roundtrip flight on average, about 130 tons or ~130,000kg CO2 (source: blueskymodel.org)
One roundtrip nonstop flight NYC-LA per person is ~400kg CO2 (source: Google the flights)
A roundtrip local commute of 25 miles is ~10kg CO2 (source: epa.gov)
A virtual participant is ~0.08kg / event hour (source: iea.org)