Friday, 16 October 2009

Carbon neutrality standard

On Wednesday the British Standards Institute (BSI) announced that it’s developing a new standard, known as PAS 2060, to give a consistent and comparable approach to carbon neutrality claims.  The developed is in co-operation with the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and several well-known companies, including Marks and Spencer, Eurostar and the Cooperative.

BIS points out that claims of carbon neutrality are often made by companies that want to appear greener, but there’s no common definition or understanding of what it means.  The result has been public confusion and accusations of ‘greenwashing’. The PAS 2060 specification for carbon neutrality aims to establish some credibility to the term.

The standard will allow accurate and verifiable declarations of carbon neutrality.  By including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as an essential element, BIS believes that PAS 2060 will encourage action on climate change and improvements in carbon reduction management (which you would have thought was a pretty basic aspect of carbon neutrality anyway).

PAS 2060 builds on existing environmental standards such as the ISO 14000 series and PAS 2050.  It will include the quantification, reduction and offsetting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  A draft of PAS 2060 is expected to be available for public comment in November and BSI is encouraging anyone interested to comment.  Interested parties can register interest at

It’s a good anti-greenwashing move and comes in the nick of time.  The UK government is already using the term – it’s a stated aim to make ICT energy consumption in central government departments carbon neutral by 2012.  This was announced before the government had said what carbon neutrality is.  It has since come up with a definition, published in the recent GHG accounting guidelines, which reads “Carbon neutral means that – through a transparent process of calculating emissions, reducing those emissions and offsetting residual emissions – net carbon emissions equal zero”.  Not exactly precise.  Lets hope that PAS 2060 is a lot clearer and more comprehensive (particularly with regard to the offset element).

© The Green IT Review

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