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Carbon glossary

Activity-based method:

Activity-based carbon accounting is a method of measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions that focuses on quantifying emissions based on specific activities, processes or operations within an organisation. This approach breaks down emissions by the various actions or events that contribute to the organisation's carbon footprint, allowing for a more detailed understanding of where emissions are generated.


Actions and strategies designed to help societies and ecosystems cope with the adverse impacts of climate change, including building infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events.

B Corp:

B Corp, short for Benefit Corporation, refers to a type of business entity that is legally structured to consider not only financial returns but also its social and environmental impact. B Corps are committed to balancing profit generation with a broader commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and positive contributions to society and the environment.

Baseline year: 

In the context of carbon accounting and climate change mitigation, a baseline year is the year from which emissions reduction targets are measured. Baselines are important because they provide a clear starting reference for tracking changes and determining whether goals have been achieved.


Biofuel refers to a type of fuel that is derived from organic materials, typically of biological origin, such as plants, algae or animal waste. Biofuels are considered renewable energy sources because they can be replenished relatively quickly compared to fossil fuels, which take millions of years to form.

Carbon accounting software: 

Carbon accounting software refers to specialised computer programs and tools designed to help organisations accurately measure, track, manage and report their greenhouse gas emissions. These software solutions provide a systematic and efficient way to gather, process and analyse data, enabling organisations to make informed decisions about their sustainability efforts.

Carbon accounting: 

The process of measuring, recording and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals from various activities, operations or entities. It helps quantify an organisation's or a product's carbon footprint.

Carbon budget: 

A carbon budget refers to the total amount of greenhouse gases, usually expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), that can be emitted into the atmosphere while still maintaining a specific temperature target. It represents the finite amount of emissions that can be released without exceeding a certain level of global warming and helps guide climate policies and actions to limit the impacts of climate change.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP): 

An international non-profit organisation that encourages companies and cities to disclose their environmental impact data, including carbon emissions, water usage and climate-related risks.

Carbon footprint: 

The total amount of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) and others, emitted directly or indirectly. It's often measured in metric tons of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) per year.

Carbon insetting: 

Carbon insetting is a concept similar to carbon offsetting, but with a distinct focus on emissions reduction within a company's own value chain or operations, rather than compensating for emissions externally. Insetting involves implementing emissions reduction projects directly within an organisation's supply chain, operations or products to achieve verifiable and quantifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon intensity: 

The amount of carbon emissions produced per unit of economic activity, energy generated or another relevant metric. It helps evaluate the environmental efficiency of different processes.

Carbon market: 

A carbon market is a marketplace where carbon emissions are bought, sold and traded as a commodity, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. Carbon markets are established to create financial incentives for organisations to reduce their carbon emissions and promote the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Carbon negative: 

Carbon negative refers to a situation in which an entity, activity or process removes more greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere than it generates, resulting in a net reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Being carbon negative goes beyond carbon neutrality or climate positivity, as it involves actively sequestering or offsetting a larger amount of emissions than is produced.

Carbon neutrality: 

Achieving a balance between the amount of carbon emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere, resulting in a neutral carbon footprint.

Carbon offsetting: 

Compensating for an entity's carbon emissions by investing in projects or activities that reduce or remove CO2 from the atmosphere, such as reforestation, renewable energy projects and carbon capture technologies.

Carbon pricing: 

A market-based approach to reducing carbon emissions by placing a monetary cost on carbon, either through taxes or emissions trading systems.

Carbon removal: 

Carbon removal, also known as carbon sequestration, refers to the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere or other sources to mitigate its impact on climate change.

Carbon sequestration: 

The process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, often through methods like afforestation, reforestation and soil management.

Carbon tax: 

A financial penalty imposed on entities based on the amount of carbon emissions they produce, aiming to incentivise emission reduction.

Circular economy: 

A circular economy is an economic and industrial model designed to optimise resource use, minimise waste and promote sustainability by creating a closed-loop system in which products, materials and resources are kept in circulation for as long as possible.

Climate action plan: 

A comprehensive strategy developed by governments, organisations or institutions to address climate change, outlining specific actions and targets for emissions reduction and adaptation.

Climate change: 

Long-term alteration of Earth's average weather patterns, including shifts in temperature, precipitation and wind patterns, often attributed to human activities, primarily the release of greenhouse gases.

Climate positive: 

Climate positive refers to a state where an entity or activity goes beyond achieving carbon neutrality by removing more greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere than it generates. In other words, being climate positive involves actively sequestering or offsetting more emissions than are produced, resulting in a net reduction of atmospheric CO2e.

Climate resilience: 

The ability of communities, ecosystems and infrastructure to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of climate-related hazards.

Climate vulnerability: 

The susceptibility of communities, regions or ecosystems to the negative impacts of climate change due to their exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.

CO2-equivalent (CO2e): 

A unit that expresses the global warming potential of various greenhouse gases in terms of the amount of CO2 that would have the same warming effect over a specific timeframe.

Embodied carbon: 

Refers to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, typically expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), associated with the entire lifecycle of a product, building, or infrastructure component. This includes all emissions produced during the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, construction, use and eventual disposal or end-of-life management of the item in question.

Emission factor: 

A coefficient that quantifies the amount of greenhouse gases released per unit of activity, energy consumption or material used, serving as a basis for carbon emissions calculations.

Energy Performance Certificate: 

An EPC certificate is an official document that provides information about the energy efficiency of a building or property. EPC certificates are typically required in many countries as part of energy efficiency regulations and initiatives. They aim to inform property owners, buyers, tenants and potential investors about the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a building.

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS): 

ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment and reporting program in the United Kingdom. It requires large organisations to assess their energy consumption and identify energy-saving opportunities in order to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. 

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD): 

An EPD is a standardised and verified document that provides transparent and comprehensive information about the environmental performance of a product throughout its life cycle. EPDs are based on life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and are used to communicate quantifiable environmental data to consumers, businesses and other stakeholders.

GHG Protocol Corporate Standard: 

This standard outlines a comprehensive methodology for organisations to measure and report their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. It categorises emissions into three scopes.

GHG Protocol Product Standard:  

This standard provides a framework for assessing the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of specific products. It helps organisations identify emission hotspots and opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint of their products.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): 

GRI is an independent international organisation that has developed a widely used framework for sustainability reporting. The GRI framework provides guidelines and standards for organisations to report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and impacts. 

Global warming potential: 

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure used to quantify the potential for a greenhouse gas to contribute to global warming over a specific period of time, usually 20, 100, or 500 years, relative to the same mass of carbon dioxide (CO2). It allows for the comparison of the warming effects of different gases based on their ability to trap heat in the atmosphere.

Global warming: 

The increase in Earth's average surface temperature due to the enhanced greenhouse effect caused by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Greenhouse gas (GHG): 

Gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases.

Greenhouse gas effect: 

The natural process by which certain gases in the atmosphere trap heat, maintaining a suitable temperature for life on Earth. Human activities have intensified this effect, leading to global warming.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a widely recognised and internationally accepted standard for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals. It provides guidelines and tools for organisations to measure, manage and report their emissions in a consistent and transparent manner. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): 

A United Nations body that assesses scientific information on climate change, its impacts, adaptation and mitigation options. It plays a crucial role in informing global climate policies.

Internal carbon pricing: 

An internal carbon price is an artificial cost or financial value assigned by a company to its own greenhouse gas emissions. This price is used for internal decision-making purposes and reflects the potential cost of emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By incorporating an internal carbon price, companies can account for the financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change and emissions reduction efforts.

ISO 14064: 

ISO 14064 refers to a set of international standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that provide guidelines for quantifying, monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals. These standards are designed to help organisations accurately measure their carbon footprint, assess their climate impact, and effectively manage their emissions.

Kyoto Protocol: 

An international treaty aimed at mitigating climate change by setting binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries during its commitment periods.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): 

A comprehensive analysis that evaluates the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, including production, transportation, use and disposal.

Location-based carbon reporting: 

In location-based carbon reporting, organisations calculate their Scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions from purchased energy) using average emission factors for the grid where they operate. These emission factors represent the emissions associated with the average energy mix of the electricity generation in a specific geographical area. Location-based reporting provides a simpler and more straightforward way to account for emissions, as it doesn't require detailed information about the energy sources used. 

Market-based carbon reporting: 

In market-based carbon reporting, organisations calculate their Scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions from purchased energy) using emission factors specific to the energy sources they use. This method acknowledges that different energy sources have varying levels of carbon intensity and aims to reflect the organisation's actual contribution to emissions based on the energy mix they consume.


Efforts to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases and their accumulation in the atmosphere, encompassing actions like transitioning to renewable energy sources and reforestation.

Net zero: 

A state in which an entity's total greenhouse gas emissions are equal to the total amount removed from the atmosphere, resulting in a net zero impact on global warming.

Ocean acidification: 

The ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans caused by the absorption of excess carbon dioxide, primarily from human activities, leading to detrimental effects on marine life.

Paris Agreement: 

An international treaty adopted in 2015 aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Signatory countries commit to reducing emissions and enhancing climate resilience.

Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF): 

PCAF is a global collaboration among financial institutions aimed at developing and implementing a standardised approach for measuring and disclosing the carbon emissions associated with their lending and investment portfolios. The goal of PCAF is to enable financial institutions to assess and report the carbon footprint of their activities, thereby contributing to the alignment of their portfolios with climate goals and promoting more sustainable financial decision-making.

Power Purchase Agreement: 

A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is a legal contract between two parties that outlines the terms and conditions for the sale and purchase of electricity. Typically, a PPA involves a power producer, such as a renewable energy developer or an independent power producer, and a power purchaser, which could be a utility company, a commercial entity or an industrial facility.

Publicly Available Specification 2050 (PAS 2050): 

PAS 2050 is a carbon footprint assessment standard developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI). It provides guidelines for assessing and quantifying the carbon footprint of products and services throughout their lifecycle, from raw material extraction to production, distribution, use and disposal.

Renewable energy: 

Energy derived from sources that are naturally replenished, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy. These sources produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.

Resilience building: 

The process of enhancing the ability of communities and systems to withstand and recover from the impacts of climate-related events, aiming to minimise disruption and damage.

Science based targets: 

Science-Based Targets (SBTs) refer to greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets set by companies, organisations and governments that are aligned with the latest climate science and global climate goals. These targets are designed to contribute to the international effort to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Science-Based Targets Initiative: 

Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is a collaborative initiative that encourages and assists companies in setting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that are aligned with the latest climate science and the global goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Scope 1 emissions: 

Direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by an organisation, such as emissions from on-site combustion of fossil fuels and emissions from owned vehicles.

Scope 2 emissions: 

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with purchased electricity, heat or steam consumed by an organisation. These emissions occur off-site but are a result of the organisation's activities.

Scope 3 emissions: 

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur along the entire value chain of a product or service, including activities such as production, transportation and waste generation. These are often the most challenging to measure and track as they involve multiple entities.

Sea level rise: 

The increase in the average level of Earth's oceans due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets and the expansion of seawater as it warms.

Spend-based method: 

Spend-based carbon accounting is a method of calculating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions based on the financial expenditures or costs associated with an organisation's activities, products or services. This approach ties emissions to the financial transactions that support those emissions, providing insights into the carbon impact of various spending categories.

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR): 

SECR is a UK government policy introduced in April 2019 that mandates certain companies to report on their energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and related information in their annual reports. SECR aims to simplify and streamline reporting requirements while encouraging organisations to improve their energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Sustainability reporting: 

The practice of disclosing an organisation's social, environmental and economic performance, often including carbon accounting data, to demonstrate commitment to sustainable practices.

Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD): 

TCFD is an international initiative established to encourage organisations to disclose consistent and comprehensive information about the financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change. The TCFD provides a framework for companies and financial institutions to assess and disclose the impact of climate-related factors on their operations, financial performance and strategies.

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