Defining Net Zero

Almost everyone agrees that Net Zero is a Good Thing, and something that we need to reach by 2050 at the latest. But what is Net Zero? Is there a common understanding, and does a deadline of 2050 provide enough urgency? How does Net Zero relate to science-based pathways, or to the need to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement? And what should people be doing on the way to Net Zero – after all, 2050 is still quite a long way off?

These are some of the many questions that are now being addressed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) through an International Workshop Agreement (IWA). Led by the British Standards Institution (BSI) on behalf of ISO, a series of three virtual workshops – open to all – aim to create a document setting out guidelines for Net Zero. The document aims to enable countries, regions, NGOs, companies and organizations at all levels to be able to set targets, achieve and communicate their pathway to net zero.

IBECCS is providing support to the core development team within BSI. IBECCS’ principal, Ian Byrne, has extensive experience within the international standardization process, and is currently convening a working group writing an ISO standard on carbon neutrality, ISO 14068. This is a closely related concept to net zero, but differs in its use of offsets to enable claims of neutrality to be made at any point in time, rather than a longer term net zero target.

If you want to participate in the Net Zero workshops, it is free to participate and you can register through the dedicated website. But hurry – the series of workshops will end on 1 September 2022, with the aim of publishing a final document in time for CoP27 in Egypt in November.

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