Over the last two decades, the world has seen a paradigm shift in the way we operate and think about our impact on the environment. With increased investor demand and a more conscious client base, businesses are recognising their responsibility to measure and report direct and indirect impact on the environment and are setting out clear decarbonisation pathways in their strategy.
PAS 2060 is an internationally recognised carbon neutrality standard developed by the British Standard Institute (BSI). Carbon neutrality means not adding new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere. Where emissions continue, they must be offset by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere, for example through carbon capture and reforestation that is supported by carbon credit schemes.
Carbon neutral claims have received considerable amount of scepticism in the past. Most recently, Delta Air Lines  had to pay damages to customers for misleading carbon neutral statements in campaigns that warranted customers paying a higher price. Alignment with PAS 2060 increases the transparency of carbon neutral claims with trusted and credible global standards infrastructure. It is the only credible Carbon Neutral Standard that helps break through the heavy mist of empty environmental claims and joins the fight against greenwashing.
In order to set out clear decarbonisation pathways at an organisational level, companies can opt to achieve carbon neutrality with PAS 2060 Standard or set out a Science Based Target to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The main difference between the standards is that certifying to PAS 2060 allows companies to claim they are carbon neutral, and committing and achieving Science Based Targets allows companies to claim they have achieved ‘Net Zero’.
PAS 2060 provides guidance to companies on how to quantify, reduce and offset GHG emissions in a specified business area. The standard presents four key stages to achieving carbon neutrality. This includes the following 4 steps:
Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) provides companies with clearly defined pathways to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals by limiting global warming to 1.5° C. The launch of the SBTi Net Zero Standard  ahead of COP26 in 2021 was a milestone. The standard requires companies to make rapid and deep emissions cuts, through setting both near-term and long-term Science-Based Targets. To achieve Net Zero, organisations are required to achieve a 90% reduction in line with latest climate science, where only 10% of emissions can be offset using carbon capture and storage technologies.
Carbon neutrality includes a wider definition of offsetting residual emissions, including emissions avoidance activities, and wouldn’t prescribe a specific reduction trajectory. It’s also less prescriptive regarding the reporting boundary, with the inclusion of wider value chain (Scope 3) emissions being encouraged but not mandatory.
The purpose of this article is to highlight key differences and similarities between the two decarbonisation approaches and let companies make informed decisions on which approach is best suited for their business.
The key differences between PAS 2060 and SBTi are shown in the table below.