Carbon Management

What it means to be carbon positive

Getting to grips with varying sustainability terms and practices can be a minefield - especially when the key statuses are similarly named. As a result, this can lead to confusion among organizations and its consumers. Here, Minimum investigates what carbon positivity is and its impact.

What is carbon positive?

Carbon positive, also known as carbon positivity or carbon positive practices, refers to a concept where an entity, such as a business, individual, or organization, is still producing a carbon footprint, and therefore is still contributing to climate change. It differs from climate positivity,which is actually more akin to carbon negative status. 

Carbon positive vs carbon negative

Carbon positive and carbon negative are two distinct concepts related to carbon emissions and their impact on the environment. 

Being carbon positive means that an entity (such as a business or individual) is still producing a carbon footprint - even if they are taking steps to reduce their CO2 emissions. It has come to be a negative term, as any business that is classed as carbon positive is contributing to climate change. It also has a tendency to create confusion for consumers, as the phrase has positive connotations, but in practice it isn’t. 

On the other hand, being carbon negative means that an entity not only reduces its carbon emissions to net zero or lower but actively removes additional CO2 from the atmosphere. In other words, it has a net-negative impact on the environment in terms of carbon emissions, while being carbon positive does the opposite. This is similar to the related term, climate positive. 

The difference between carbon positive and climate positive

Climate positivity focuses on achieving a net-positive impact on the environment with regard to climate change. It encompasses a broader range of climate-altering pollutants and factors, including not only carbon dioxide (CO2) but also other greenhouse gasses and environmental practices that contribute to climate change. 

Achieving climate positivity involves implementing a comprehensive set of strategies and initiatives to mitigate and reverse the adverse effects of climate change, which may include:

  • carbon emissions reduction
  • methane reduction
  • reforestation
  • adaptation strategies 
  • addressing various climate change drivers (such as black carbon)

The goal of climate positivity is to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable planet by actively countering the multiple drivers of climate change and promoting environmental resilience.

How is it different to being carbon neutral?

If a business is carbon positive but aiming for carbon neutrality, it means that they are aiming to balance its carbon emissions with an equivalent amount of carbon removal or offsetting. In other words, the net emissions are zero. The business may be taking steps towards carbon neutrality in the following ways: 

How Minimum can help

If your business is looking to move away from being carbon positive and towards carbon neutrality or negative, we can help. 

Minimum can help organizations to understand their existing carbon output, and create plans to mitigate climate related risks in the future.  Our Emissions Data Platform seamlessly collects and processes emissions data from every corner of your organization and supply chain - no matter the format. Making it the ideal platform for emissions audits and all-round business intelligence. 

Learn more about how Minimum's Emission Data Platform can help to power you all the way to Net Zero today.