Glossary

Explore key sustainability terms and definitions to decode the jargon.

B

A certified B Corp, or Benefit Corporation, is an organisation that meets high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Biodiversity means the many different types of living things, like animals, plants, and bugs, as well as the places they live in, all working together to keep our planet healthy and balanced.

C

Carbon accounting refers to the process of measuring, calculating, and tracking the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions produced by an organisation, activity, or product.

Carbon emissions refers to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, produced by our activities that contribute to climate change. It is expressed as CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent.

Being carbon neutral means achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and the amount removed or offset, resulting in a net-zero carbon footprint.

Carbon offsets are investments in projects or activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for an organisation’s own carbon footprint.

A circular economy is where resources are used efficiently and waste is minimised by reusing, recycling, and repurposing materials to create a sustainable, closed-loop economy.

Clean transport refers to the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable transport options that produce minimal or no harmful emissions, such as electric vehicles, public transit or cycling.

Climate change refers to the ongoing changes in Earth’s climate system, including rising temperatures and shifts in weather patterns, mainly caused by human activities.

Climate change adaptation means taking action to prepare for and cope with the effects of climate change, ensuring that communities and ecosystems can withstand and recover from its impacts.

Climate risk refers to the potential harm or negative impacts that can arise from climate change, including extreme weather events, sea-level rise, temperature changes, and other factors which can threaten human, natural and economic systems.

Climate transition refers to the shift from a polluting economy to a sustainable one, aimed at mitigating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability through clean energy, emission reductions, and adaptation measures.

D

Decarbonisation means taking action to reduce or remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change, by using more sustainable practices.

E

ESG refers to the environmental, social, and governance factors that are considered when evaluating a company’s sustainability and ethical practices.

F

Fairtrade is a certification given to products that meet social, economic and environmental standards, particularly for production in developing countries.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. Burning them releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing global warming.

G

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is a certification that ensures textiles are produced using organic fibers. Products with GOTS certification are recognised as organic and sustainable.

Green finance refers to financial products and services that support environmentally friendly and sustainable initiatives.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, that are released into the air and trap heat in the atmosphere.

Greenwashing is the act of making false or exaggerated claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or company.

I

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was established in 2021 to develop a global framework for sustainability and climate related financial disclosures.

N

Net zero means achieving a balance between the amount of GHG emissions produced and the amount of emissions removed from the atmosphere.

P

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty adopted in 2015 by 196 parties to combat climate change. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2˚C with efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5˚C (above pre-industrial levels).

S

The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) provides companies with a clearly defined path of setting targets to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Company emissions are categorised as scope 1, direct emissions from operations, scope 2, indirect emissions from purchased energy, or scope 3, indirect emissions along the value chain.

Sustainability for a business involves operating in a way that considers the wellbeing of people, the planet, and long-term profitability.

A sustainability audit is an assessment of a company’s practices and performance to determine its environmental and social impact and identify opportunities for improvement.

Sustainability credentials are third party verification that a company has implemented sustainable practices and achieved recognised standards in environmental and social responsibility.

Sustainability reporting is the disclosure of information about a compamy’s environmental and social performance with stakeholders.

Sustainability targets are specific goals set by a company to drive and track its progress in achieving sustainable outcomes.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a framework for global sustainability adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Made up of 17 integrated goals to achieve a more sustainable future for all by 2030.

Sustainable finance drives positive change by directing money into businesses that promote environmental or social objectives.

A sustainable finance taxonomy is a classification system for defining sustainable activities for finance and investment purposes.

T

The triple bottom line refers to considering three key factors in business performance: profit, people, and the planet.

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