While the importance of sustainability has never been clearer, the terminology can be somewhat confusing. It can be difficult to keep on top of what everything means, so while everyone wants to do their bit for the environment, it helps to know the lingo! We’ve got you covered with our net zero jargon buster.
An adjustment of human systems in response to, and in anticipation of, climate-related impacts and risks.
A carbon budget is a finite amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere before warming will exceed specific temperature thresholds. A carbon budget is calculated by an assessment of emission sources and sinks on a relevant scale and the resulting atmospheric CO2 growth rate.
The primary measure of emissions. This incorporates multiple greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere, converted into however much carbon dioxide would equal the insulating atmospheric effect of an emissions for ease of comparison.
A detailed plan that explains how an organisation will target a specifically selected amount of emissions in the future, by deploying an emissions strategy comprised of energy and emissions reducing interventions.
Achieving a balance between residual carbon emissions and carbon emission removal to find a sum of net zero carbon emissions created by human activity. This can be achieved through 100% renewable energy but in practice tends to include at least some carbon offsetting.
Achieved when, as result of human activities, more CO2 or greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere than are emitted.
Investment in schemes that fund environmental projects which remove or avoid CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity. Such activities traditionally centre on forest planting, but can include many emissions positive projects. These schemes are verified by independent standards, and the licenses for the obviated emissions are sold to businesses to allow for a negative entry into their carbon footprints. This allows organisations to be carbon neutral without using 100% renewable energy sources entirely.
A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon than it releases into the atmosphere, (such as forests).
This involves effective management of the global climate system, with purposeful mechanisms and response measures to combat climate change related risks.
The process of reducing carbon emissions that are released into the atmosphere.
Potential pathways that countries, communities, organisations or groups could take to cut carbon emissions.
Emissions trading is a market-based approach to controlling pollution, by providing economic incentives for reducing emissions. The main form of emissions trading is known as “cap and trade”. This is when a cap is set on emissions and then permits are created up to the level of this cap. Companies or other entities covered by the scheme need to hold one permit for every tonne of pollution (CO2e) they emit. These permits are then tradeable, putting a price on pollution and profit as an incentive for good performance.
Energy efficiency refers to using only as much energy as is needed without wasting any. A device or building that is energy efficient uses minimal energy to provide the power it needs.
A method to decrease energy consumption, each with their own applicability count, cost and payback period. Generally, by changing, upgrading, or optimising hardware.
The ability to maintain an adequate, stable and predictable energy supply. This can be impacted by the availability or reliability of energy sources, volatility of the energy market and fluctuating demand.
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are three categories of interest for socially conscious investors. Environmental criteria consider a company’s environmental footprint and climate action. Social criteria examine how a company manages its relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, and shareholder rights.
Extreme weather refers to unexpected, unusual or unseasonal weather. For example, severe thunderstorms, blizzards, flooding, hurricanes etc. These can also be referred to as climate events.
Greenhouse gases absorb radiation that is emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere itself and by clouds. This subsequently causes the greenhouse effect by trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Actions that falsely represent an organisation as being environmentally responsible. Such as making false claims about environmental credentials or an excessive reliance on carbon offsetting. May be a result of improper boundary setting for carbon footprints, poor methodology, or otherwise indulgent or inappropriate reporting.
The primary measure of energy consumption, metered or calculated in various ways to enable comparison across multiple energy sources.
In short, the Kyoto Protocol operationalizes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in accordance with agreed individual targets.
Human intervention to reduce emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.
A scenario where a balance is struck between the amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and the amounts absorbed or removed, completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity. Generally this term is used to refer to organisations also making progress on energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources, and/or taking into account wider environmental concerns.
This legally binding international treaty on climate change was adopted in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance and was adopted by 196 parties.
A pathway toward keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forests but that have been converted to some other use.
Any GHG Emissions which remain after a project or organisation has executed all technically and economically feasible reduction opportunities.
The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. Based on the growing consensus that climate change significantly impacts economic decisions, the task force aims to improve and increase climate-related financial reporting.