What does decarbonization really mean? What are carbon credits? What is the CDP?

News about climate change is often saturated with terminology which can limit our understanding of the issues and how our political leaders intend to address them. With COP26 in full swing, we are hearing these carbon-related terms more than ever.

With this in mind, we are sharing a glossary of the terms which often dominate the climate conversation to help businesses and individuals to respond to updates from COP26.

  • Absolute emissions – Absolute emissions are the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by an organization.
  • Carbon capture – Carbon capture is the use of technology to capture the Carbon Dioxide emitted from certain industrial processes.
  • Carbon credits – Carbon credits are a certificate or permit which allow an individual/business to emit a specific amount of carbon dioxide. Certain businesses are given quotas of carbon credits which can be used by them or traded and sold. It is essentially an offset mechanism.
  • Carbon extraction – Carbon extraction is the means by which Carbon Dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, and then securely stored for long periods of time.
  • Carbon negative – Carbon negative is achieved when more carbon is being removed from the planet than is being produced and therefore exceeds the achievement of net-zero.
  • Carbon neutral – Carbon neutral is a state in which the greenhouse gas emissions produced by an activity/process is equal to those removed (by offsetting/reduction).
  • Carbon offsets – Carbon offsets are activities where the emission of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases are reduced in order to compensate for emissions which have already been made elsewhere.
  • Carbon pricing – Carbon pricing is placing a monetary value on carbon (e.g. £x per tonne CO2e) in order to drive reduction of carbon emissions and or forecast the cost of carbon in current/ future operations or innovations.
  • CDP – The Carbon Disclosure Project is an international non-profit organisation which partners with organisations like the UN, Government agencies and NGOs such as WWF to help companies and cities to publicly disclose their environmental impact.
  • CO2 – CO2 is the chemical formula for Carbon Dioxide.
  • CO2e – CO2e stands for Carbon Dioxide equivalent. This is a way of describing various greenhouse gases as one unit.
  • Decarbonization – Decarbonization is the process of decreasing the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
  • Decarbonization as a service (D-a-a-s) – Decarbonization-as-a-Service is a service which focuses on helping businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) from their suppliers.
  • LCSA – The Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment is the way in which environmental, economic and social benefits and disadvantages are evaluated when making decisions to improve the sustainability of products through their life cycle. 
  • Net-zero – Net-zero is achieved when the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by an organisation/activity is balanced out by the removal of greenhouse gas emissions over a set time period.
  • SBT– Science-based targets are produced by an organisation which focuses on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the global warming pathway ambitions to keep global warming below 1.5°C since pre-industrial level. These are accredited by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). 

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. To learn more about COP26, visit the official website.

Check out our recent article Understanding your Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to gain a better understanding of the Scopes of emissions and emissions reporting.

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