Carbon Neutrality

From Open Risk Manual


Carbon Neutrality is a type of GHG Mitigation Goal.

Reporting Boundary

Carbon neutrality can be defined at a global level, country level, city or entity level. At a city level, carbon neutrality can be said to be achieved when the amount of GHG emissions produced within a city’s GHG inventory boundary in a certain year is equal to the amount of GHG removals within the same defined inventory boundary for the same time period. Depending on the target design, some cities may include the use of offsets as part of reaching a carbon neutral target. Carbon neutrality targets are needed to prevent the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere and limit the global average temperature rise.[1]

Cities should separately report both emissions and removals to determine their progress towards a carbon neutrality goal. Carbon neutrality should be achieved by demonstrating net-zero GHG emissions in all relevant scopes – in accordance with the target set by the city – within the boundary on an annual basis. Cities must set a carbon neutrality target separately and along with a GHG emission reduction target and the two must be viewed as complementary since not specifying a GHG reduction target could lead to reliance on high rates of GHG removals, or offsets if used, to balance high rates of emissions.

To ensure transparency and meaningful and accurate reporting of progress made towards their goals, cities should report both GHG emissions and GHG removals separately. Cities should update emissions reduction trajectories periodically, estimate target year emissions, and consider new strategies to reduce their emissions as much as possible. Cities should try to directly reduce emissions within their control as well as work with others to address emissions sources not directly controlled by them.


  1. Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories, An Accounting and Reporting Standard for Cities, Version 1.1, 2021. WRI, C40, IOCLEI