Carbon Neutrality

The essence of carbon neutrality is a net result of zero emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents (CDE), which includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and occasionally other greenhouse gases like fluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The CDE for gases other than carbon dioxide is calculated by multiplying the mass of a gas by its global warming potential (e.g. 122 times that of carbon dioxide for methane), as defined by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Organizations generally begin the process of achieving carbon neutrality by taking an inventory of their emissions and then reducing the amount of energy they use - chiefly through a spectrum of energy efficiency measures. Once energy efficiency has been maximized, a variety of potential next steps include fuel shifting (such as burning biodiesel, which can be a carbon-neutral fuel) to behavioral changes (like the increased use of public transportation) to further reduce the CDEs. Ultimately, when emissions have been reduced as much as possible, carbon neutrality can be reached by the purchase of carbon offsets from reputable traders in renewable energy credits in an amount equal to the number of tons of CDEs remaining.

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1) From Clean Air-Cool Planet.