ISO Net Zero Guidelines Explained (2023)

In November last year, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), presented their new Net Zero Guidelines. The framework is the outcome of over 1,200 global experts coming together to develop a clearly defined pathway for companies to transition to net zero.  

We are breaking down 5 prominent FAQs in the ISO Net Zero Guidelines space.  


1. What is the definition of net zero, in respect to the guidelines?

Net zero carbon is not to be confused with zero carbon.  

Zero carbon refers to when zero Greenhouse Gas emissions are being/have been released into the atmosphere.  

Net zero carbon refers to when the total sum of the carbon released into the atmosphere, is equal to the total sum taken out of the atmosphere.  

The guidelines suggest and encourage that the first port of call when beginning a sustainability journey, is reducing emissions as much as possible (before looking to offset options to balance carbon footprint).  


2. Who are the Net Zero Guidelines for?

The guidelines have been intentionally created with the flexibility and scope to be appropriate for all businesses – from SMEs to large corporations.  


3. By following the ISO Net Zero guidelines, will your business be carbon neutral?

It is important to make a distinction between net zero and carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality is not the core goal or focus of the Net Zero Guidelines.  

Rather, carbon neutrality can be seen as short-term goal: ‘’a point on the way to net zero, and net zero being a much higher standard that is sustained over time’’.  

ISO has announced it will soon release new guidelines (ISO 14068) for carbon neutrality focused goals.  


4. Do net zero targets change for different businesses?

Yes, targets are impacted by your business’ respective industry. More information on this can be found <here>.  


5. What are the 9 pillars of the Net Zero Guidelines Framework?

  • Alignment: Paris agreement & best practise.  
  • Urgency: Drastic action is needed to achieve 2050 deadline.  
  • Ambition: Targets must be relative but ambitious (e.g 50% reduction). They should be relative to the scale of your emissions.  
  • Prioritisation: Reduction takes precedence over removal.  
  • Decision-making based on scientific evidence and indigenous knowledge: Targets should be science-based net zero targets <link to cv blog> and incorporate local and indigenous communities where relevant.   
  • Risk based approach: This applies particularly to offsetting initiatives – they should always be the lowest risk option.  
  • Credibility: Avoid greenwashing by ensuring your efforts are in line with reporting standards and evidence backed.  
  • Transparency, integrity, and accountability: ISO recommends that a report should be published at least once annually that details goals and progress.  
  • Equity and Justice: Your goals and strategy should take into consideration social and economic inequalities. 


How can your business adhere to these 9 principles, without additional strain on resources?  

ClearVUE.Zero automates the process. One platform has been designed to incorporate all the features needed to simplify and overcome the challenges and opportunities laid out in the FAQs above.  

This is achieved using easy-to-install, ground-breaking data technology, with built-in reporting standards.  

How does the technology work?  

Learn all about ClearVUE.Zero with a free demonstration here. 

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