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7. Glossary of Terms

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of life found on earth and includes all species of plants and animals.  Resilient ecosystems depend on biodiversity and underpin economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing. 

Carbon Emissions

used as a shorthand to refer to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are included in the Kyoto Treaty. Carbon dioxide is the most common GHG, and other gases can be measured in relation to it (see CO2e).

Carbon Neutral

the balancing of carbon emissions against carbon removals and/or carbon offsetting with the net result being zero (see also Net Zero).  This typically relates to scope 1 and 2 emissions only on a mandatory basis and scope 3 emissions encouraged. 

Climate Change

the large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures.

Climate Emergency

the serious and urgent problems caused by changes in the world’s weather as a result of human activity increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Greenhouse Gases

gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat.  They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere.  The main greenhouses gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.  Greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.

Nature Emergency

the loss of habitat for nature and wildlife and a reduction in biodiversity.

Net Zero

the balancing of carbon emissions against carbon removals and/or carbon offsetting with the net result being zero (see also carbon neutral).  This is aligned to the 1.50C trajectory and includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

Paris Agreement

this is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.  It was adopted at a COP Summit in Paris in December 2015 with a goal to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, preferably to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. 

Scope 1 emissions

emissions from sources that an organisation owns or controls directly.  A simple definition is emissions from fuel that is burned in our buildings, vehicles and equipment such as boilers. 

Scope 2 emissions

emissions that an organisation causes indirectly when the energy it purchases, and uses is produced.  A simple definition is emissions from fuel that we buy. 

Scope 3 emissions

emissions that are not produced by the organisation itself, and not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by them, but by those that it’s indirectly responsible for.  This includes purchased goods and services, business travel, waste disposal and employee commuting.  Scope 3 emissions are typically the most significant contributor to an organisation’s carbon footprint.