Frequently Asked

What is climate change and global warming?

Global warming and climate change! You see these terms everywhere now, on the news, on social media and even your neighbour down the road is talking about them. But does anyone know exactly what they’re referring to? Well, climate change is the large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures. Global warming is just one aspect of climate change and refers to the ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface. This is happening because of the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere due to human activity. (Welsh Government, 2021)

Greenhouse Gas, CO₂ and CO₂e, what do they all mean?

These terms are thrown around all the time and what they all mean can get confusing, let’s start with what a greenhouse gas (GHG) is. A GHG is a gas that absorbs and re-emits heat within the Earth’s atmosphere and thereby keeps the planet’s atmosphere warmer than it would otherwise be. The primary greenhouse gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone. (Mathew Brander, 2012)

Why do we care about carbon dioxide (CO2) and what it is? CO2 is the most common GHG emitted through human activities in terms of quantities and total impact on global warming and therefore we should care about it. The burning of fossil fuels to create power, transportation and deforestation are just some examples of human activities which emit CO2. (Mathew Brander, 2012)

How about CO2e? This looks the same as O2, so what’s the difference? Well, CO2e is shorthand for carbon dioxide equivalent and is for comparing various greenhouse gasses in a common unit. For any quantity and type of GHG, CO2e represents the amount of CO2 which would have been the equivalent global warming impact. (Welsh Government, 2021) To express a quantity of a GHG as O2e, the amount of the GHG can be multiplied by its global warming potential. For example, if 1kg of methane is emitted, then this can be expressed as 25kg of CO2e (1kg of CH4 × = 25kg CO2e). (Mathew Brander, 2012)

What is a climate emergency?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a climate emergency as a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it. In 2019, the UK declared a national climate emergency, following other declarations made by municipalities across the UK, Bristol City Council being the first in 2018, not only in the UK but in Europe too. (Brown L. , 2019)

The reason this declaration was such a monumental step for the UK is because it finally acknowledged the severe effects of climate change, which are inevitable without change. Statistics and examples speak loudest, so here are just a few to demonstrate the catastrophic effects if we do nothing. The last time our planet was hotter than now was at least 125,000 years ago. Global temperatures are projected to surpass the irreversible threshold by 2027 if nothing is done, this will and has led to significantly more periods of extreme heat. Historically, a heatwave was a once-a-decade event, now this happens 2.8 times a decade and in just 6-11 years could be happening 4.1 times a decade. Heatwaves have been killing hundreds and thousands of people as well as billions of sea creatures. In 2021, Germany and China have seen astounding floods, wildfires of extreme magnitude have burned through Canada, California and Greece, and rain for the first time has fallen rather than snow at the summit of a rapidly melting Greenland. At the current rate, by 2050, 216 million people, mostly from developing countries, will be forced to flee the impacts of climate change. Radical action is needed and was needed long before today. (The Guardian, 2021)

Carbon Neutral, Carbon Negative and Net Zero, what do they all mean?

These terms are used all the time as if they were interchangeable, but this isn’t the case. Carbon neutral means achieving a state in which the net amount of CO2e emitted into the atmosphere is reduced to zero because it is balanced by actions to reduce or offset these emissions. If the amount of CO2e reduced or offset is more than the net amount emitted into the atmosphere, then this means carbon negative. Whilst net zero means making changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest amount and offsetting as a last resort. The offsetting will be done to counteract the essential emissions once all emission reduction measures have been implemented. (Chartier, 2021)

Why should I bother being carbon neutral or carbon negative?

The goal of becoming carbon neutral or carbon negative is to mitigate the effects of global warming and stop climate change, consequentially, preserving and protecting the planet for future generations. If an organisation were to become carbon neutral or carbon negative, this would result in less pollution, less waste to landfill, and ultimately less greenhouse gas emissions. (Unisan, 2021) Without any change, by 2027 global temperatures are expected to reach an irreversible stage, deforestation at the current rate will destroy all rainforests on earth within 100 years and life on earth will inevitably be at threat. (The Guardian, 2021)

How does my organisation benefit from becoming carbon neutral?

Through your organisation becoming carbon neutral, carbon negative, or net zero you are not only helping to stop global warming, but you are also moving first and taking bold action which will provide your organisation with a defining competitive edge. By differentiating yourself in the market through demonstrating that you are measuring, disclosing, and managing climate risks you will increase revenue though an increased engagement with customers. Another potential benefit would be mitigation of risks, these risks being possible future regulations that tax carbon consumption among organisations.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting? This sounds like a magical solution to climate change, so what is it? Carbon offsetting is the compensation of CO2e emissions arising from human activity. This is done by investing in environmental projects designed to make equivalent reductions of CO2e in the atmosphere. Often these projects are based in developing countries, and most are designed to reduce future emissions. There are various possible carbon offsetting projects to invest in, these could involve rolling out clean energy technologies, tree plantations with the intention to sequester CO2 directly from the air or purchasing carbon credits from an emissions trading scheme. (Clark, 2011) Typically, an organisation would invest into environmental projects which align with their ethical and social agenda or relate to their product to offset emissions.

So, is this a magical solution to climate change? Let’s imagine if someone were to  enter a marathon, but they paid someone else to do the weekly training for them. Well, this solution won’thelp them run the marathon on the day!. Through this example we can see the key is to reduce any GHG emissions and also invest in environmental projects. It is important that an organisation has reduced their emissions as much as possible before carbon offsetting otherwise they could be deemed as greenwashing. 


What is a greenwashing? Greenwashing is a term used to describe an organisation’s actions that give the impression of being environmentally friendly rather that actually being environmentally friendly.

What are the steps to becoming a carbon neutral or carbon negative organisation?

So, you’re thinking this sounds amazing, I’d love to do my part and help prevent climate change, but this sounds like a lot of hard work, what are the steps and how can we become carbon neutral or carbon negative? Well, it’s really not as complicated as it may first appear and we’ll be able to do all the work for you, once you can provide us with your organisations’ data and what your ambitions are. The first step would be to calculate the carbon footprint of your organisation; the way that we would do this would be to look at a base year and analyse different aspects of the organisation, collecting data which we would compile to calculate an estimation of the total GHG emissions for that year. We would review GHG emissions caused by different scopes of the organisation for example, heating, transportation, energy use, purchased goods and services and much more. Following this, we would consult with you to understand where we could advise to make changes and reduce your emissions ideally to a residual level, having little to no effect on the functionality and profitability of the organisation (might it save them money? – thus increase profitability). Finally, we would then look at offsetting these residual emissions through advising various offsetting projects to align with the ethical and social agenda of the organisation. (Welsh Government, 2021)

Is becoming carbon neutral a choice or do I have to?

The UK has committed in law to become net zero by 2050 and is calling for organisations to set ambitious emission reduction targets by 2030. (Government, 2021) Depending on the size of your organisation though, there are different deadlines to be met; under the proposed Treasury rules, financial institutions and companies with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange must come up with net-zero transition plans, which must be published from 2023. (BBC News, 2021) Furthermore, in Wales the Welsh Government has set out the ambition of achieving a carbon neutral public sector by 2030. (Welsh Government, 2021)  Although your organisation is not required to start its net zero journey right now, the later you decide to make the change to net zero and set out these targets the more difficult it will be to reach these goals within the deadlines set out by the UK. You will also be risking a future carbon consumption tax for your organisation. If you are seeking any public sector contract it is a requirement that you have a robust decarbonisation plan in place.

How much will it cost to make my organisation carbon neutral?

You’ve realised how severe the global situation is, you’ve understood the steps to becoming carbon neutral and recognized the huge benefits for your organisation and the planet, but you’re concerned about how much this is going to cost you and take away from your organisation’s profits. Greener Edge will charge a fee for our service to help your organisation to become carbon neutral but exactly how much this cost varies and depends on multiple factors; these being the size of your organisation, typically the larger the organisation the more is required to change to reduce your emissions to a residual level, the level of change your willing to make, the changes you make and the environmental projects you choose to invest in to offset your emissions. For smaller organisations, it is possible this could only cost 1% of your annual profits and for larger this could increase. However, like stated in the benefits for your organisation to become carbon neutral, your organisation should see increased revenue following this change, through increased customer engagement and would mitigate the risk of carbon tax in the future which could be a far higher percentage of your profits.

How will people know my organisation is carbon neutral?

Now you’ve become a carbon neutral organisation, you want everyone to know right? You want to show everyone that your organisation cares about climate change and you are doing everything you can to help! Well, through becoming carbon neutral with Greener Edge we have used the methodology set out in ISO:14064 standard. Your business would then gain certification through self-declaration and Greener Edge would award you with a Greener Edge specific certification which you would be able to have on your website, along with a Greener Edge icon to represent that your organisation is carbon neutral. As well as this we would provide you with the Greener Edge carbon neutral icon sticker to put on show at your organisation for all your customers to see. What does the sticker look like?  should it be included here?

What’s the point of doing anything when China is opening a new coal-fired power station every week?

Whilst it is true that China is the largest emitter of CO2e on the planet and has been exponentially increasing emissions annually and have recently been opening many new coal-fired power stations, they seem to be making a change for the better. They are also leading in solar power and getting greener at a faster rate than any other country, meaning increasing forestry through programs designed to reduce soil erosion and pollution. (Brown D. , 2021) Knowing this can be comforting to know that the changes we are making aren’t in vain. However, even if China wasn’t making changes, then the changes we’re making wouldn’t be in vain anyway and we’ll explain why!

Firstly, through your organisation becoming carbon neutral, there are many benefits to you and your local area. You have the potential to save money by reducing high emission activities.  You will demonstrate local leadership by making positive changes to help prevent climate change and have a positive local impact. . You will also demonstrate to your staff and your clientel that you are acknowledging and responding to climate risks.  This change will also be improving the local climate through your reduction of pollution, improving the air quality ergo the quality of life.

Finally, it is our moral obligation to do something when we know we can rather than assuming that your organisations change to carbon neutral isn’t going to make a difference. For every organisation that makes a change there will be a ripple effect, and in time this will grow to have a huge effect on the current state of climate change.

What will Greener Edge do with my organisation’s information?

To become carbon neutral with Greener Edge, your organisation will be required to disclose confidential and sensitive information. We take this matter seriously and will handle this information with severe care in line with GDPR regulations. We would sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, preventing the information you share being seen by any third party, and the information would only be used for the intention the information was shared. At any point on request Greener Edge will return all copies and records of the information and will not retain any copies or records of the information.

Why should Greener Edge calculate my organisation’s footprint? Why can’t I do it myself and use an online calculator?

Why can’t I just use an online calculator to find out my carbon footprint? I could save my organisation some money and I can start entering data right away to explore my footprint! Well, yes, it is true you may be able to calculate your carbon footprint for less money and start right away however there are many downsides with an online calculator which you don’t get with us. Firstly, it’s not only about the calculation, since this is only a small part of the journey to becoming carbon neutral. But deciding what to include, setting reduction targets, creating action plans, selecting offsetting projects and monitoring progress are all tasks to be completed separately to the calculator and are tasks which need expert advice. Greener Edge can complete all these tasks for you through our expert knowledge and what’s more we can tailor our process to your organisation’s goals and needs unlike an online calculator. Secondly, online calculators typically lack the level of accuracy that is required, often making assumptions and broad estimations, whereas Greener Edge can offer a bespoke service guiding you through the complexities of the calculations with the most up to date research available. Online calculators lack the flexibility and tend to embody one way of working, whereas Greener Edge offer total flexibility and can adapt the process as your organisation develops and as scientific understanding, best practice, and legislation changes. (Go Climate Positive, 2021)

What about my personal carbon footprint?

You’ve done it, your organisation is doing its part to help stop climate change and your organisation is carbon neutral! But all of this is making you think, what else can I do? Can I do more to help prevent climate change? I want to do more! Well, you can look at your own carbon footprint and there are many things you can change about your everyday life to reduce this. One aspect you can change is the food you eat for example, by consuming local and seasonal products and reducing your meat intake, if not stopping your meat intake. Another possible change would be behaviours with clothing, as in taking good care of your clothes, buying ethical and sustainable clothing, or even buying second-hand clothing. Transport is something else to consider, for instance only drive when you really need to and instead take public transport, or better, cycle. Even your energy usage and waste, reducing energy in your house can be as easy as taking shorter showers, unplugging electronic equipment, not leaving devices on standby, and turning the lights off during the day. Waste can be reduced through buying loose veg and fruit and buying items not packed in plastic when possible, making sure to compost food waste and recycle all recyclable items. (Europa, 2021) As well as reducing your carbon footprint by making simple changes to your everyday life, it is possible to support and invest in carbon offsetting projects yourself. Whether you choose to offset your whole carbon footprint annually or just flights you take, you will be lowering carbon emissions and doing your part. (Clark, 2011)


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