Our Next Step in Growth: Open Certification

Ellie Read
November 1, 2022
We're making our certification even more transparent, so more companies can work independently to apply and get verified. It's all part of one movement, one trusted standard.

When we launched the Climate Neutral Certified standard, we predicted we would certify 36 companies in the first year. That number turned out to be 150. A similar thing happened in our second year. Demand for the certification, and our easy-to-understand consumer label, has been tremendous.

This is a good thing, because it’s allowing us to create a lot of impact in a short time. But it also presents a challenge:

The challenge: How can we certify hundreds or thousands more brands in the next few years, without building an enormous team?

The answer: we’re opening up the certification process so that anyone can take steps to complete the background work (measure, reduce, compensate) needed to apply. We’ll still do the auditing and data checking. And for many companies, we’ll still offer tools at every step of the way.

The opportunity for our certification is much bigger than we are, and we believe that every climate consultant and carbon software provider out there should be able to contribute to building the strength and raising the bar on the climate and carbon neutrality movement.

One movement, one trusted standard

The idea of carbon neutrality has existed for more than a quarter of a century. Over that time, global carbon emissions have risen by about one-third. Which begs the question: if carbon (or climate) neutrality has the potential to make a gigatonne-scale impact, as we hope, what’s getting in the way?

We think it would help to unite behind a single climate standard and certification. In the same way that we understand and trust the consistent requirements for certified Organic, FairTrade, or LEED, we are building critical mass around a single, trusted standard for credible climate action: the Climate Neutral Standard. 

In the months ahead, we’ll be talking about what we see as keys to the success of this movement. For starters: among those companies who are taking these steps, unfortunately we see a lot of focus on branding and re-branding the ‘what.’ So much so that there are now dozens of certifications and labels with carbon-related claims out there. At a basic level, they all seek to do about the same thing: create a recognizable symbol of a company’s climate work. But beyond that, intentions diverge. Some labels are meant more as software or service marketing devices. Some are customized to clients’ needs. Some talk about the climate, but have nothing to do with carbon emissions. Put them all together, and you have a confusing mix of signals that no consumer will be able to untangle. For both companies and consumers, it gets really confusing to navigate what is or isn’t greenwashing! 

We strive to publish the most rigorous, transparent, and accessible standard for climate neutrality and accountability in the world. As an independent, nonprofit entity (that’s us! 👋) we are singularly focused on eliminating carbon emissions. We have no profit motive, and thus can ‘afford’ to apply the same standard to every company seeking to achieve our certification, no exceptions. 

So when you see Climate Neutral Certified, you’ll know you can trust the caliber of climate action that it stands for — and you can read up on exactly what certified companies are doing because it’s all publicly disclosed.

We’re building a bigger tent

Another problem with decarbonization is this: simply not enough companies are doing it. We find people tend to spend a lot of time debating and thinking about what they need to do on climate — but this is the easy part: every company should be measuring Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, investing in carbon reductions, and fully compensating for their impact year over year. This is basic table stakes, and there’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel here. It’s time to get beyond ‘what we should do’ to figuring out ‘how we should do it’ and collaborating on solutions. 

We’re opening up our certification process and inviting partners to work alongside us in order to do just that — to get all the actors in this space pointed in the same direction, to jump past the question ‘what are we seeking to accomplish here?’ and accelerate investments in reducing, avoiding, and removing carbon emissions.

To encourage convergence around the Climate Neutral Certified standard (and create more value from it), we’ve created a network of partners aligned in this work who can help brands become certified. We’re delighted to announce our new network of certification consultants, a cohort of consulting and technology partners who recognize Climate Neutral Certified as the leading consumer climate label. Nine firms are joining us for this launch, many of whom have worked with recently certified companies — and we hope many more will follow. To start:

We're proud to welcome Climate Positive Consulting, Common Practice Sustainability Advisors, Latviv, Long Trail Sustainability, OnePointFive, Sensiba San Filippo LLP, Shift Advantage, Snaplinc Consulting, and Sustainable Business Consulting - A Point B Company to our new, bigger tent.

These firms have demonstrated experience in carbon accounting, reduction planning and implementation, and offset procurement strategy — the core pillars of our certification program — and most importantly they are well equipped to help companies prepare and submit applications for certification. Many are trained to support companies using our measurement tool, the BEE, and each partner offers unique strengths to companies looking to level up their climate strategies.

And opening up even more ways to get started

In addition to our partner network, we’re creating new points of entry for companies who are ready to act — from the climate newbies to the sophisticated veterans. Companies can now select the pathway to certification that best meets their needs. 

  • For companies new to climate work, we recommend joining us for a structured certification cycle, where we guide you through each step of the process to meet our Standard. 
  • For companies familiar with sustainability concepts but in need of an extra hand or companies ready to deepen their climate strategy with the help of a consultant, we suggest talking with one of our network of consultants who can help you meet our requirements and apply for certification. 
  • For companies already running an advanced climate strategy but looking to communicate it more effectively, you can now work independently to meet our requirements and apply for certification when you’re ready. (This option is invite-only for now as we gauge interest.) 

With these new options and channels for support, we believe that many more companies will see a path to becoming certified. While they all end up in the same place, increasingly they’ll take different roads to get there.

If your company is interested in joining hundreds of climate leaders on the path to decarbonization, reach out to us at hello@climateneutral.org about becoming Climate Neutral Certified. We’d love to connect.

Any company can become Climate Neutral Certified. And in our view, every company should.

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Header image by Thomas Richter on Unsplash

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About the Author

Ellie Read
Certification Director

Ellie is an accomplished product manager with experience scaling tech solutions for impact. Ski fanatic, ocean lover, and passionate believer in the potential for corporate action against the climate crisis, Ellie has an MBA in Sustainable Solutions. She is always seeking ways to improve her impact, her team, and her dog's falsetto, and loves a good high five.

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