ISO 14068-1:2023-11 - "carbon neutral" with certificate

What does "climate neutrality" mean?

"Climate neutrality" is a term that has not been conclusively defined and should therefore be used with caution.

The European climate targets refer to "net zero emissions" (EU Green Deal) or "greenhouse gas neutrality" (BMU Climate Action Plan 2050). In both cases, this refers to a state in which there is a balance between the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, etc.) and their absorption from the atmosphere into sinks. This means that only greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted that can be absorbed again by sinks.

The scientific definition of climate neutrality according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also takes into account non-greenhouse gas-related climate effects, which must also be offset or be net zero. These include, among others

  • Radiative forcing of contrails
  • Change in the albedo (reflectivity of the earth)
  • Discharge of warm waste water into rivers

Due to the sensitive political and social discourse surrounding the topic of greenwashing, environmental claims should only be used if they are based on a robust and internationally recognised set of rules that takes into account the Green Claims Directive.

With the ISO 14068-1:2023-11 standard published in November 2023, a standard was created that specifies the requirements for "carbon neutrality" and regulates the use of the term. As there is currently no German translation of the standard, we confirm the claim "Carbon Neutral" with a successful verification of ISO 14068-1 in order to exclude risks in communication.

"Carbon neutrality" can be achieved by services, products, companies, projects, events and other clearly defined entities.

Why become "carbon neutral"?

The last report published by the IPCC clearly stated that there is only one way to stop climate change - through massive reductions in GHG emissions.

More and more laws are being passed at national and international level with the aim of slowing down climate change in order to meet the 1.5 °C target set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. This includes, for example, the amended Climate Protection Act or the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) proposed by the EU Commission.

The pressure on the economy is growing. In addition to initiatives such as the IPCC or the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and multi-stakeholder organisations, customers and consumers are also increasingly speaking out. Sustainable corporate goals are also increasingly becoming a prerequisite for investments by financial institutions or inclusion in certain stock indices.

Be ahead of the legislation with your company and send a clear signal to your stakeholders that you are prepared to act in favour of compliance with the Paris Agreement.

How to achieve climate neutrality? The process in 5 steps

Surely you have already taken measures to make your company or product climate neutral. An external review (verification) by an independent body strengthens the credibility and integrity of your efforts.

First of all, you have to decide whether you want to account for your entire company or a product / service. Accordingly, the accounting standard (ISO 14064-1 / ISO 14067 / GHG Protocol Corporate or Product Standard) should be determined as the basis for determining your carbon footprint.

You should then consider for which balance sheet boundaries and against which materiality criteria you record your greenhouse gas emissions.
Once the balance limits have been defined, the carbon footprint can be created. If you already have an energy or environmental management system according to ISO 50001 or ISO 14001, you can also use your established structures and data for the greenhouse gas balance. Please have a look at our guidelines.
Your balance limits, especially with regard to Scope 3 emissions, and the balance standard are assessed against our catalogue of criteria and shown on the certificate and the seal.

The information obtained by creating the carbon footprint can now be used to design a target-oriented and sustainable climate strategy. To this end, a greenhouse gas reduction strategy for achieving climate neutrality is anchored in the corporate policy. You set measurable reduction targets related to a time period compared to a base year. Concrete and realistically feasible measures should be identifiable.
Your reduction targets and your climate strategy are also assessed against our catalogue of criteria and set out on the certificate and label

Unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions are offset by investments in environmentally relevant projects, e.g. via international standards such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). It should be noted that offset certificates may not be accounted for as a sink in your GHG balance.
Our catalogue of criteria defines various requirements that you can use to evaluate the quality of the compensation.

Your data and calculations as well as your measures are checked by an independent body - on the basis of documents and on site. If identified deficiencies are demonstrably remedied, you will receive a test report and a certificate of your climate neutrality.

You have taken a step towards climate neutrality. Now you can communicate what you have achieved: Publish your efforts and measures in a GHG statement and strengthen the trust of your customers and society in your company.

You can find more information on our information website climate-neutrality.com.

What are the prerequisites and requirements for achieving climate neutrality?

External verification by an independent body increases the credibility of GHG balances. The overriding requirement is that the verification is complete, independent and without conflicts of interest, i.e. that the verifier has not been involved in any way in the preparation of your GHG balance.

Accredited certification bodies are regularly controlled by the accreditation bodies of the European states, in Germany this is the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS). Non-accredited certificates should be questioned very critically!

A uniform definition is currently being made in the ISO 14068 standardization project under the heading of carbon neutrality. So far, the following standards can be used:

We are happy to combine our verification of your GHG balance and your climate neutrality with existing management systems (e.g. ISO 14001 or ISO 50001) or existing legal reporting requirements (e.g. emissions trading or GRI standard).

Our auditors have multiple qualifications and can often audit several standards at the same time. Take advantage of the synergies.

Your data and calculations as well as your measures are checked - on the basis of documents and on site. If identified deficiencies are demonstrably remedied, you will receive a certificate of your climate neutrality. The complexity of the subject requires a systematic approach.
Our verification therefore takes place in the following test steps:

1- preparation of the verification

  • Procedure, dates, required documents
  • Strategic analysis and risk analysis by the VS unit, assessing the methodology and potential risks in the GHG inventory.

2- carrying out the verification

  • Checking the completeness, consistency and correctness of your GHG balance sheet
  • Conformity to climate neutrality in accordance with PAS 2060 (ISO 14068) through verification of decommissioned certificates and climate activities carried out

3- result of the verification

  • Test report with notes and recommendations
  • final test certificate (certificate)

We calculate the cost of verifying your climate neutrality individually, depending on the size and complexity of the company, the number of production sites, the amount of data required and the product portfolio.

Why you should tackle the topic of climate neutrality with GUTcert

In our DAkkS-accredited certification system includes all worldwide valid accreditation rules. This guarantees the international recognition of your certification. In addition, you benefit from the following advantages:

  • In a GUTcert audit you receive valuable input beyond the mere confirmation of conformity, because our auditors have great expertise in their field and extensive knowledge of the industry.
  • Do you operate globally? So do we: in association with our parent company, the AFNOR Group, we can carry out major international projects on a centralised basis with over 1,800 auditors worldwide.

Where can I find further information on climate neutrality?

Further information can be found on our project website climateneutrality.com and at the seminars at our in-house academy on the subject of carbon footprint and climate neutrality.

Frequently asked questions

Read our FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions about the Carbon Footprint.