03 December 2021
Topics in this article
  • Net Zero | Scope 3
  • People

The new Net Zero Standard by the Science Based Target initiative is becoming the benchmark against which companies can assess their commitments on climate. With the bar being set even higher, and going beyond offsets, companies will need to innovate like never before.

The development of exciting new technologies, creative collaborative solutions, and sector-wide breakthroughs will drive the transition to a low carbon economy.

With this in mind, we’ve created a terminology guide focused on Net Zero, The Science Based Target’s initiative, and innovation to help businesses and individuals engage in the conversation and drive positive change.

  • Absolute emissions: the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by an organization​
  • B Corp: this term refers to a for-profit company whose business model is designed to create a positive social or environmental impact. These organizations also publish public reports regarding their impact
  • Carbon capture: the use of technology to capture and store carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere, e.g. storing it under the sea. This reduces the level of emissions produced by energy-intensive processes such as electricity generation​
  • Carbon credits: this form of credit provides an organization the right to emit a capped quantity of carbon emissions. 1 credit is often equal to the emission of 1 tonne of CO2; organizations can choose to trade or sell excess credits​
  • Carbon negative: exceeding the achievement of net-zero, when more carbon is being removed from the planet than is being produced​
  • Carbon neutral: a state in which the GHG emissions produced by an activity/process is equal to those removed (via reduction/offsetting)
  • Carbon offsetting: the process of compensating for CO2 emissions produced through investing in the reduction of emissions elsewhere, e.g. financing an offsetting project which drives reforestation​
  • Carbon pricing: placing a monetary value on carbon (e.g. £x per tonne CO2e) in order to drive reduction of carbon emissions​
  • Carbon tax: this form of tax puts a fixed charge on emissions sources. This acts as an incentive to reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions​
  • CDP: the Carbon Disclosure Project is a not-for-profit charity which supports organizations in the disclosure of their environmental impact. They provide valuable information such as supplier emissions datasets and carry out a widely recognized global disclosure system​
  • Climate change: a shift in global or regional climate patterns over a set time period. These shifts can be due to natural causes, but since the 1800s they have been significantly driven by human activity​
  • Corporate social responsibility: the idea that a company is invested in making decisions that consider society and the environment, as well as be concerned about the products and profits it generates
  • CO2: carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring atmospheric gas. It is also produced as a by-product of human activity such as the burning of carbon-containing fuels, e.g. coal​
  • CO2e: carbon dioxide equivalent is a unit used to highlight how much CO2 would produce the same warming impact as the level of an alternative greenhouse gas, e.g. methane (CH4)
  • COP26: refers to the United Nation’s 26th Climate Change Conference. Located in Glasgow, this conference provides the opportunity for key global stakeholders, such as the US President, to collaborate and tackle climate change​
  • Decarbonization: the process of removing/reducing the level of carbon emissions produced by an organization or entity
  • Energy efficiency: the use of less energy to produce the same output. This can be achieved through a variety of measures, such as improving insulation or switching to renewable energy sources.
  • Embodied emissions: the emissions associated with the production of a product or service, including the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, and transportation
  • Fossil fuels: fuels, such as coal and oil, which are formed from hydrocarbon deposits produced by fossils. They are a finite resource and greenhouse gases are produced as a result of combustion of these fuels
  • Incremental innovation: The gradual and continual improvement of existing products or services.
  • Industry-wide collaboration: Solving one of the world’s biggest problems, climate change, will require deep collaboration to drive progress on common objectives. Even though companies are often competitors, change makers are now often coming together to pool resources and expertise to help each other.
  • Intensity emissions: the amount of GHG emissions produced relative to an economic output unit, e.g. amount of CO2e (tonne) produced per individual product sold​
  • IPCC: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body of the United Nations, provide regular up-to-date assessments on global climate change and its associated impacts and risks​
  • Net Zero Standard: Under the new standard from the Science Based Targets initiative, companies must reduce emissions by at least 90% by 2050. Only then can they turn to offsets to neutralize emissions that cannot be cut – with a limit of 5-10% depending on the sector.
  • Near-term Science Based Targets: What companies will do now, and over the next 5-10 years, to reduce emissions in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Long-term Science Based Targets: Show the degree of emission reductions needed for companies to reach net-zero before 2050 in line with keeping global temperatures to 1.5°C.
  • Lifecyle-assessment (LCA): this method is used to identify and measure the environmental impact of a service or product. It accounts for all associated impacts across the lifecycle, from production to disposal
  • Modern slavery: this refers to different forms of slavery including human trafficking, forced labor, and bonded labor
  • Net-zero: when the level of GHG emissions produced by an organization/activity is balanced out by the removal of GHG emissions over a set time period​
  • Renewable energy: energy taken from sources that are inexhaustible, e.g. solar and wind power
  • Radical innovation: This type of innovation impact refers to the creation of completely new technologies (or knowledge) that can transform industries and behaviors.
  • Science-based targets: targets produced by an organization which focus on reducing their GHG emissions in line with global warming pathway ambitions (keeping global warming below 1.5°C since pre-industrial levels); these are accredited by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)​
  • Scope 1: refers to all direct GHG emissions produced either by an organization’s activities or under their control, e.g. on-site heating, company vehicles, etc​
  • Scope 2: refers to all indirect GHG emissions produced by electricity supplied to/used by an organization​
  • Scope 3: refers to all indirect GHG emissions produced across the value chain, including both upstream and downstream, e.g. purchased goods, business travel, etc
  • SBTi: the Science Based Targets Initiative is a partnership which drives global climate action via providing a standard for setting science-based emission reduction targets
  • Systemic change: Is required when efforts to change when part of the system will fail to fix the problem. Systemic change means that change has to be fundamental and affects how the whole system functions.
  • The Chancery Lane Project: a collaborative group, comprised of lawyers from around the world, who create climate-related contract clauses in order to drive climate change solutions
  • Tipping point: The moment in time when widespread, critical change occurs in terms of the adoption of an idea, trend, or belief.

Climate change is an issue that affects us all and it is key that we can recognize the terminology for decarbonization processes to facilitate positive change.

Decarbonizing processes will require colossal changes to the ways in which we conduct business, but with wider access to the new technologies and processes outlined above, Net Zero is becoming an increasingly attainable target for those who take advantage of these techniques.

Are you trying to help your business reach net-zero? Get in touch to discuss how Decarbonization-as-a-Service can work for you.

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If you are looking to drive purposeful and profitable change, get in touch.

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