Carbon neutrality, or having a net-zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by balancing the carbon released to the atmosphere (largely from combustion of fossil fuels) with an equivalent amount of carbon trapped away from the atmosphere (sequestered) or offset by renewables. Carbon, in this sense, is actually a catch-all phrase for several greenhouse gases (GHG) that we capture, e.g., carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), and Nitrous oxide (N2O). These are also referred to Carbon dioxide equivalents, or CO2e.
Annual GHG emissions (CO2e) – annual carbon sequestered (CO2e) = 0
This means that we will drastically reduce the amount of CO2e that we emit by improving energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable energy. The rest we will balance by increasing our local carbon sinks in forests, open space, and by improving soil productivity and carbon storage.
Emissions are classified into three categories for measurement:
- Scope 1 refers to on-site natural gas, e.g. furnaces and water heaters, and other fossil fuel combustion, e.g. transportation fuels.
- Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions that come from purchased electricity production, e.g. all the electricity used within Park City that is produced at a power plant located outside City boundaries.
- Scope 3 refers to emissions that come from other business activities. These emissions are notoriously difficult to calculate. Park City’s inventory includes measuring Scope 3 and consumption-based emissions, including air travel for residents and visitors, and some food-based indicators.