Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Thomas H. Tietenberg

Second Advisor

F. Russell Cole

Third Advisor

Philip J. Nyhus


Carbon neutral is a term used to describe any organization, entity, or process that has a net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions level of zero (Dautremont-Smith et al. 2007a). Since carbon neutrality only requires a net greenhouse gas emissions level of zero, organizations do not need to eliminate all carbon pollution to become carbon neutral. Net emissions differ from gross emissions in that gross emissions are the sum of all emissions released by the individual or entity, whereas net emissions are equivalent to the gross emissions minus any carbon offsets. A carbon offset is any activity that reduces carbon emissions so as to exactly compensate for a carbon emitting activity elsewhere (Dautremont-Smith et al. 2007a). If net emissions were greater than zero, the entity would be considered a net emitter of carbon. If they were less than zero, then the entity would be a net reducer of carbon. If the net emissions level was zero, then the entity would be carbon neutral.


Colby College, Greenhouse gas mitigation, Waterville