Plus_signA key concept in sustainability, widely applied to carbon markets, is “additionality”. It centres on whether a specific intervention that an organisation makes to improve sustainability delivers an improvement that would not otherwise have occurred. Understanding this concept is essential if one wants to set  resource efficiency goals that are not open to criticism.

While it is clear that the measure of resource efficiency that has greatest environmental integrity is the measure of the absolute resource use in relation to the sustainable capacity of the planet, it does not necessarily follow that all improvements an organisation makes in absolute resource use can be recognized towards their own resource efficiency goal.