How to become a Net-Zero human

You’ve probably seen your council declare a climate emergency, or heard one of the many companies recently state their Net-Zero intentions. But what does Net-Zero mean, and how does being Net-Zero apply to a human?

The UK Government, and all those who have signed up for the Paris Accord have the legally binding objective to reach Net-Zero by 2050.

This means the amount of CO2 their activities emit is balanced by an equivalent volume of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere.

Making a country or a multi-national Net-Zero is complex but we could speed this up significantly by asking all our citizens to become Net-Zero.

So here’s how to make yourself Net-Zero voluntarily.

  1. Find out how much you emit and for what activities. There are a number of tools for this but by far the simplest is the WWF’s carbon footprint calculator. Simply answer about 20 questions about your lifestyle and the website calculates your footprint based on averages. It also gives you a nice breakdown of the areas of your life that create the greatest emissions.

In my example this shows my lifestyle emitting 7 tonnes per year.

2. At this point we could simply pay an offsetting company to offset our 7 tonnes every year and announce that we are Net-Zero, but the scientists don’t agree. To avoid claims of green-washing you must also make a commitment to reduce your emissions going forwards and present any offsets and any renewable energy sources in a table.

For example.
In 2021 I pledge not to take any flights and to reduce the emissions from the stuff I buy by not buying anything new. I buy our renewable energy from Bulb Energy which is 100% renewably sourced.

Along with my emissions, these green tariffs, and my offsets, I am a Net-Zero human.

CO2e (tonnes)
Gross emissions CO2e7.0
Green tariff-2.5
Net emissions0

3. Offset the remaining emissions. Although the UN Carbon Credit scheme can be economically attractive I would rather support a scheme that is closer to home. It is also proven that rewilding the countryside has a huge benefit to the environment from both an emissions and bio-diversity point of view so I plant trees with Trees For Life who are re-wilding Glen Affic in Scotland.

It costs £6 per tree with Trees For Life and it is calculated that 5 trees will sequester 1 tonne of CO2 per year, so to offset our 4.5 tonnes we require:

CO2e Tonnes4.5
Trees (Tonnes x 5)22.5
Cost (£6 per tree)£135

So, in line with scientific concensus, I can claim that I am a Net-Zero human by making a public commitment to reduce my future emissions, buying 100% renewable energy, and offsetting the remaining emissions with a rewilding project in Scotland.

Of course, it’s a great start to be a Net-Zero human but to make sure our planet is inhabitable for future generations we really need political change locally and nationally which is why I support the Green Party.

Darren Moore runs One Point Five Comms which helps businesses and organisations become Net-Zero.

If this has inspired you to become Net-Zero too then please let me know below in the comments.

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