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Digesting Net Zero: supporting businesses in understanding the terminology

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass the Net Zero emissions law, requiring the country to bring all its greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050.

The commitment could see the number of “green collar jobs” grow to 2 million and the value of exports from the low carbon economy grow to £170 billion a year by 2030.

As a result of the UK’s commitment to Net Zero, local growth hubs and business support networks are coming together to help UK businesses understand what is required of them in order to become carbon neutral.

The importance of carbon literacy

Whilst businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the UK’s Net Zero climate goals, it can be confusing to understand what it means in practical terms, and in terms of what they can do within their own business to support these goals.

Throughout this article we outline some of the terms you will have started to see being used more regularly.

  • Carbon neutral The term “carbon neutral” refers to a scenario whereby any carbon emissions created are fully offset or compensated by reductions or removals of CO2. To become carbon neutral your business needs to reduce or remove more carbon than it creates – from internal business activities through to your supply chain.
  • Net Zero
    “Net Zero” is a global target, which refers to the point at which all greenhouse gases produced are balanced by the removal of gases out of the atmosphere. Countries must work together to tackle the overall objective; however, many are working to different timelines. The UK, for instance, has set its own objective to reach Net Zero by 2050, with Liverpool City Region with a target for Net Zero carbon by 2040.
  • Race to Net Zero
    The race to Net Zero is a global campaign aimed to mobilise a coalition of initiatives, rallying leadership and support from businesses and cities from all over the world to come together and meet the Net Zero target by 2050. Read more about the race to Net Zero on the United Nations Climate Change site.
  • Carbon footprint
    A “carbon footprint” is specific to an individual or company, the size of which is defined by how much carbon is released into the atmosphere as a result of its activities.
  • Decarbonisation
    “Decarbonisation” is used to describe the literal process of the reduction of carbon from the environment.
  • Sustainability
    “Sustainability” is the way in which we can meet the needs of human civilisation, without damaging the environment in the process. Sustainability is an emerging priority, particularly amongst young people.
  • Offsetting
    “Offsetting” refers to the reduction or removal of emissions through external activities, mostly commonly through supporting climate projects, which aim to protect rainforests, support communities around the world and counteract deforestation.

Gill Wood, Clean Growth Champion at Growth Platform says, “Understanding what Net Zero means and doing everything you practically can to reduce business emissions is a key way to protect the planet and support the UK-wide objective of achieving Net Zero.

“Growth Platform is committed to providing support and guidance for businesses in this process.”

How we can help you

To find out more about these definitions and what the implications are to your business, get in touch with Gill via

Visit our Net Zero business support content hub, to see the latest business news, events and support surrounding this important topic.

Additional support

  • The Business Climate Hub is designed to help SMEs pledge to halve emissions by 2030 and bring them to Net Zero by 2050, in line with national ambitions.
    Businesses that sign up will receive climate-related support from the likes of NatWest, Google, Scottish Power and BT. They will also have their commitment, once formalised, recognised by the UN’s Race to Zero campaign.
  • Another initiative available to SMEs is the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory. The partnership, between Liverpool John Moores University, University of Liverpool and Lancaster University is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is working with local organisations to identify opportunities for low carbon development.
  • Clean Growth UK is delivered across the North by Liverpool John Moores University. The programme aims to help local businesses drive and deliver their clean growth missions, develop their commercial skills and bring their products to market faster.
  • ECO-I North West offers businesses support to develop their ideas and innovations through world class academic expertise and cutting-edge technology. From collaborative research and development right through to delivering commercialisation strategies, Eco-I NW and LJMU can assist businesses to realise their low-carbon potential in products, processes and services.