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Understanding Net Zero and Carbon Footprints: A Guide for Small Business Owners

Mar 14, 2023

As a small business owner, you may have heard a lot of talk about net zero and carbon footprints lately. But what do these terms actually mean? In this post, we’ll break it down for you.

First off, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (or CO2e) that is released into the atmosphere as a result of an individual or organisation’s activities. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that absorbs and radiates heat, contributing to global warming.

The COP27 conference was held in 2022, where members of the UN’s conference of parties agreed to aim for “Global Net Zero” by 2050 and limit global temperature increases to a maximum of 1.5oC. As a member of the UN’s COP, the UK has also committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050.

Net Zero means being carbon neutral, where an organisation is not producing more greenhouse gases than it is contributing to having removed from the atmosphere.

Carbon emissions are broken down into three categories:
Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources),
Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy),
and Scope 3 (indirect emissions produced by the organisation’s value chain).


Scope 3 is then broken down into two types.

These are produced by an organisation’s suppliers, employees, and customers and are categorised as upstream or downstream emissions.

Upstream emissions are contributed to by the organisation’s suppliers or employees and downstream emissions are produced by the organisation’s customers.

Carbon emissions are measured in CO2e, and the GHG Protocol is the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards.

In our next blog we’re going to take an even closer look at Scope 3 and how those upstream and downstream activities are categorised.


Do you need help with understanding your current carbon footprint?

We can help you. We have a Carbon Reduction Reporting service that will not only give you the valuable insight into what’s currently happening but provide guidance and recommendations of what you can be doing to reduce your footprint and hit your zero carbon goals.