To coincide with COP26, here’s a Jargon Buster of terms commonly used in Climate Science

To coincide with COP26 summit, the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference which runs from 31 October – 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, and aims to to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Business West has produced the following useful “Jargon Buster” of commonly used terms and phrases used in climate science:

CO2 – the abbreviation for carbon dioxide – a colourless, odourless gas produced by the burning of organic compounds and fossil fuels, by the processes of respiration and decomposition, and by volcanic activity, and absorbed by plants during photosynthesis. 

Active Travel – this particularly refers to  commuting to work or school, by a means that involves physical exercise, such as walking and cycling.

Biodiversity – this is the variability among living organisms from terrestrial, marine and other ecosystems. Biodiversity includes variability at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels. 

Carbon capture and storage–  the trapping and storage of carbon dioxide produced by power plants or industrial facilities, in order to prevent it from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to global warming;. Often abbreviated as CCS. 

Carbon footprint– is the environmental impact of a particular individual, community, or organisation, or of a specific event, product, etc measured in terms of the total associated greenhouse gas emissions, and typically expressed in terms of the (annual) equivalent in tons of carbon dioxide. It is typically measured as scope 1, 2, 3 – these refer to where carbon was emitted by your organisation. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from company owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam and heat. Scope 3 covers all purchased goods, investments, business travel, employee commuting.

Carbon intensity – this refers to the amount of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released per unit of another variable such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), output energy use or transport.

Climate Action  –  practical, concerted efforts to reduce the effects of climate change, especially by planned measures by business or implemented as national policy or international strategy. 

Climate Adaptation – the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.  

Climate Emergency/Climate Crisis – the increasing risk of hazardous, irreversible changes to the climate, resulting from global warming; the environmental crisis arising from this risk, requiring urgent action to reduce or halt climate change and avoid the consequent damage to human and environmental welfare. 

Climate Justice–  action or activism intended to ensure that efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change also address related social justice issues, such as the disproportionate projected impact of climate change on developing countries and the poor. 

Climate Mitigation – a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Carbon Neutral – a term used to describe the state of an entity (such as a company, service, product or event), where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.

Carbon Removal – the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away for decades, centuries, or millennia. 

Energy Security – the goal of a given country, or the global community as a whole, to maintain an adequate, stable and predictable energy supply. Measures encompass safeguarding the sufficiency of energy resources to meet national energy demand at competitive and stable prices. 

Ecological Emergency – the breakdown of the living systems that underpin life on the planet.  

Extreme Weather– weather that is very harsh, unseasonal, or atypical for a particular region, (now) especially when attributed to the effects of climate change. 

Global Warming long-term gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, waters, and land surface, specifically that occurring in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, becoming apparent from the late 20th century onwards, and linked to increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

Green House Gas – atmospheric gases that absorb infrared ray radiation, thereby contributing to the green house effect. Significant greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapour, and these are often considered to be a major cause of global warming. 

Green House Effect – a normal process which occurs where an atmosphere contains gases which absorb infrared radiation. On the earth a permanent greenhouse effect, largely due to water vapour but also to carbon dioxide, methane, and some other gases, these raise global temperature in earth making it more habitable.

Greenwash – to misrepresent a company, its operations, etc. as environmentally responsible. 

Natural Capital – refers to the natural resources and environmental features in a given area, regarded as assets having economic value or providing a service to humankind. 

Net Zero– the management of greenhouse gas emissions to achieve an overall balance between the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere; a target of achieving this in order to reduce the effects of global warming. 

Offsetting – this is the action or process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity, by participating in schemes designed to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Range Anxiety– a worry that an electric vehicle will not be capable of completing intended journeys (or of reaching a specific destination) before its battery loses power. 

Retrofit –  a modification made to a building to to improve energy efficiency or to counteract or reduce the effects of climate change. 

Zero Waste – the manufacture or distribution of a product with the generation of very little or no waste.

Source: Business West