What Does carbon negative mean?

Carbon Negative, robots farming

More and more businesses are making efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. Companies like Microsoft are making commitments to become carbon negative by 2030. Carbon has become a big topic over the last few years.

Terms like carbon offsets, carbon neutral, and carbon negative are used in everyday language. This is great, but unfortunately, it still results in some confusion as the terms are often considered as synonymous.

But there is differences in their detail.

Carbon Negative versus Carbon Neutral

Carbon negative goes one step further than carbon neutral. It is about removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than you emit. By contrast, carbon neutrality is about striking a balance between what you emit and what you remove from the atmosphere. 

It’s essential also to note that carbon-negative and carbon positive are synonymous. However, the term negative carbon is more widely used in the US, with carbon positive being more popular in Europe. Negative is arguably the best solution to achieving the ambitious climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

This is because it is about more than just reducing emissions; it is also vital to remove what has been emitted. Even the IPCC has urged us to be more proactive in removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Many carbon-negative solutions help businesses have a positive impact and become carbon-negative.

Carbon Negative Solutions

As mentioned, numerous carbon-negative solutions exist to help us reduce our emissions and clear up the atmosphere. In particular, nature-based solutions whereby we encourage reforestation and stop chopping down trees. Dead and decaying trees emit carbon emissions, while alive and thriving ones absorb and store them. 

Additionally, enhancing the natural processes of our planet will also help to store carbon and remove it from the atmosphere. Improved land management, for example, could store up to nine billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually. There has also been a rise in carbon-negative technology solutions. They remove carbon from the air and at the source and store it elsewhere. These include carbon capture and storage technologies which capture carbon from industrial processes. 

Why is it Important to Become Climate Negative? 

There are many reasons why businesses should become climate negative. For one thing, we are experiencing unprecedented environmental changes. The impacts of climate change and related events occurring each year are increasing the demand for business sustainability. Additionally, sustainability is vital to customers and employees. According to Deloitte Research, consumers expect brands to address climate change and take action. 

They found that 40 percent of the participants are changing their buying patterns to reflect their personal values, which includes sustainability. Other research has found that injecting purpose into your mission will also help attract and retain talent. Not to mention, embedding sustainability practices into your business operations will likely make you more intriguing to potential investors. Additionally, climate regulations will heavily impact how you conduct business in the future, so adapting now will help you get ahead of the curve. 


As more businesses commit to reducing their emissions, carbon is becoming a hot topic. But it’s important to note the differences between carbon neutral and negative and other similar terms. To be carbon-negative, you must be proactive and remove more carbon than you release. 

Want to know more about how you can transition your business to a more carbon-neutral position? Click on the link below and consider investing in one of our business sustainability courses.

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