We are sure you have heard the term Carbon Neutral countless times over recent years, but how do we achieve total carbon neutrality?

We are proud to have collaborated with One Tribe, our climate action partner, to provide some helpful information regarding Carbon Neutrality. We hope to clarify what this term means, its real-life application and how we as a business are utilising rainforest projects to achieve it.

First, a definition: Carbon neutrality refers to the balance between carbon emissions and carbon sequestration (carbon sequestration happens when carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored). Any carbon dioxide a company releases into the atmosphere from activities such as transportation or manufacturing would need to be removed for the business to be considered “carbon neutral”.

Why is carbon necessary to understand?

Carbon isn’t all bad. It provides the basic building blocks of all organic life. Much of our planet’s carbon is found in rocks and sediment. The remainder is stored inside living and dead organisms; in oceans, soil, and the atmosphere. All of these examples are referred to as carbon “sinks”.

While carbon is a natural aspect of our atmosphere, too much of it is toxic to us and our planet. Fortunately, natural resources (like the planet’s ocean and rainforests) can store and remove enough carbon from the atmosphere so that it does not reach a toxic level.

Where is the most carbon being stored?

The ocean alone holds about 50 times more carbon than the Earth’s atmosphere. Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, act as massive storage reservoirs that contain carbon from decomposed organisms that lived and died millions of years ago. This natural cycle is tested when humans burn vast quantities of fossil fuels for our cars and factories.

Similarly, the carbon that is stored in trees is dispersed into the atmosphere quickly when trees are chopped down. This is increasingly alarming as the rate of deforestation between 2015 and 2020 was estimated to be 10 million hectares per year. Due to human activity, the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere has vastly exceeded safe levels. The planet’s natural resources are struggling to keep up with the amounts of carbon emissions being released, leading to increasing CO2 levels.

Climate change is a global problem

According to the Global Carbon Project, an estimated 36.4 billion tonnes of fossil carbon emissions were produced in 2021.

When it comes to achieving carbon neutrality, we recognise the global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees, a limit for us all to achieve. Of course, we can’t go from emitting carbon into the atmosphere and rely on sequestration as the solution.

 

The concept of carbon neutrality or the NetZero mission through sequestration or other offsetting is not a silver bullet for taking on the impacts of carbon. However, we currently cannot achieve what is known as the ‘Gross Zero’ – in which we eliminate emissions for all operations as greater technologies need to be invented to help in this endeavour.

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Regardless, the global population needs to reduce carbon emissions by roughly two gigatonnes per year— that’s 5% of our total emissions from 2020 — to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

Why 1.5°C?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), founded by the UN, predicts that at 1.5°C degrees, we will see extreme heatwaves, severe ocean levels rising, and the destruction of 70% to 90% of coral reefs. The world has already seen a 1.1°C rise in global warming from 1850-1900 from human activity.

Coral reefs, known as the “rainforests of the seas”, support more species than any other marine ecosystem. They protect coastlines from storms and erosion, and they provide the habitat for nearly 25% of marine species.

 

As ocean warming occurs and exceeds natural levels, marine ecosystems gradually become unable to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as warmer water naturally absorbs less carbon dioxide. Ocean warming can also cause distress to sea life, which relies on certain oceanic temperatures to survive and flourish.

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By 2100, the IPCC estimates that sea levels could rise by one to three feet, putting millions of people close to shorelines at tremendous risk. Should rising be as severe as predicted, small island nations would become virtually uninhabitable.

Higher global temperatures won’t just affect the ocean; they will also cause droughts in certain corners of the world, only exacerbating hunger and poverty. Stabilising the crucial threshold of 1.5°C is possible, but only through immediate and drastic global action and unity.

Carbon offsetting helps make up for when emissions yet can’t be reduced

As we are currently not in a position to eliminate the CO2 and other GHG emissions resulting from all our activities on Earth ultimately, we need to opt for Carbon Offsetting initiatives. One Tribe helps us compensate for the greenhouse gases emitted both directly and indirectly into the Earth’s atmosphere.

It’s important to note that offsetting isn’t a magic tool for achieving the huge massive task of sustainability and it’s certainly not a pay as you play scheme. We must acknowledge that achieving sustainability is a journey with no immediate destination. While we at The Somerset Toiletry Company are looking at all the ways we can become more sustainable. One Tribe offers us an immediate benefit.

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So what can we all do? We can do our best not to pollute our environment and try to reduce our emissions significantly. In particular, we can reduce emissions from our business activities, supply chain, and individual levels. The use of offsetting is only one our initiatives but saving our precious trees is hugely important.

How carbon offsetting works

Carbon offset projects can manifest in several ways, from protecting forests and oceans worldwide to providing aid to vulnerable communities, investing in sustainable agriculture and working with green power technology.

A good case study of carbon offsetting is Mangrove. Studies estimate that the world lost 62% of its mangrove forests between 2000 and 2016. These forests and other coastal vegetation are some of the world’s most significant contributors to global carbon sequestration; this is mainly due to the soils of marine plant habitats, which have a much higher rate of carbon absorption than most terrestrial ecosystems. 

Programs that set out to protect these incredible ecosystems hold the potential to reduce emissions by thousands of tons of CO2 per year. These programs create measurable and transparent reductions in permanent emissions, which we would not have seen without them.

Can we offset carbon around the world?

All of us can offset our carbon, doing our part to contain carbon emissions and reduce our carbon footprint. To avoid reaching toxic carbon dioxide levels is to prevent terrible natural disasters and permanent negative changes to our climate.

We all must work hard to reduce our carbon emissions and activities. Ultimately, to be carbon neutral is to take responsibility for manufactured carbon emissions, including small things like taking the bus rather than driving or buying from brands committed to carbon neutrality. Doing your part to offset your carbon footprint is the most powerful impact you can have on our natural world.

“We are proud partners of One Tribe, a Climate Action initiative that helps businesses improve their carbon footprint and grow more sustainably”.

Sakina Buoy, Chairman of The Somerset Toiletry Company

In light of the information provided in this blog, we are motivated to make our carbon footprint improvements as individuals and as a company. Each purchase through The Somerset Toiletry Company’s online store will generate a donation, which protects five trees and stores almost 2500 kilos of carbon. So far, working with One Tribe we have protected 86,065 trees and counting. We hope to preserve many more and continue to offset our carbon emissions; we hope that you will join us on this vital journey.

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