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Klimato’s Climate Dictionary

Struggle to keep up with all concepts and abbreviations of the climate conversation? Don't worry - our climate dictionary will help you navigate the environmental debate!

March 3, 2022

Every day we are bombarded with environmental jargon and endless strange-sounding abbreviations (many of which we are guilty of using repeatedly). To help you master the climate lingo, we have created a climate dictionary with the most recurring concepts, abbreviations, and units of measure that define the environmental debate.

Concepts (list in alphabetical order):

Agenda 2030 is the United Nations’ (UN) plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. The idea of Agenda 2030 is for all countries and stakeholders to act in a collaborative partnership to achieve 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030, to ensure the future of our planet and its inhabitants.

Carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by all the activities of a person, products, services or processes expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

Climatarian can be either a lifestyle/diet or a noun. Climatarians (noun) follow a climatarian  diet - a diet focused on eating with the wellbeing of the planet and environment in mind, by choosing food based on its carbon footprint.

See also “Klimatorian”: Climatarian diet facilitated by Klimato. Klimatorians follow Klimato’s advice to choose more climate-friendly and healthy meals, enabling us to be foodies while caring for the planet.

Climate labels, sometimes also called carbon footprint labels, communicate the emissions associated with a specific product or activity. The aim of adding climate labels to a product, menu, etc. is to provide information and transparency to help consumers make more informed decisions. For example, Klimato’s climate labels are used on our customers’ menus to guide restaurant guests to more climate-friendly eating and to nudge people towards choosing dishes with lower carbon footprint.

Climate labelled menu by Klimato

Carbon offsetting is any activity often undertaken by companies that compensates for emissions caused by business activities. Offsetting usually includes investing in projects that provide an emission reduction elsewhere, or a removal of emissions through practices such as reforestation, and land restoration working as carbon sinks.

CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalents, which is the standard measurement unit for greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. CO2e combines the impact of different greenhouse gases with varying global warming potentials into one unit, to make them easily comparable. 

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, which are factors on which to assess how sustainable and responsible a business is. ESG criteria can either be used by companies to set their own standards and responsibilities to abide by, or by investors to assess ethical investments. 

GHG is an abbreviation for greenhouse gases. The main GHGs are water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone. GHGs are naturally present in the atmosphere and absorb and re-emit heat, which regulates the atmosphere’s temperature. This is good, because without GHGs in the atmosphere, the Earth would be too cold to be habitable. However, human activities such as pollution, burning fossil fuels, intensive agriculture and deforestation contribute to increased GHG levels in the atmosphere, leading to higher temperatures and climate change, which cause major consequences for the Earth’s ecosystem. 

Greenwashing is a behaviour which companies may be accused of when painting environmental actions as more virtuous - “green” - than they in fact are. Greenwashing usually happens when a company uses deceptive language or means of communication to promote their environmental actions, products or services, or when they cannot back up their environmental claims with scientific data.

IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC aims to advance knowledge on human-induced climate change by issuing reports with scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and future risks. The most recent report was released on 28th February 2022, and is part of the Sixth Assessment since the creation of the IPCC.

LCA means Life Cycle Assessment. It is a methodology for assessing the environmental aspects associated with a product, service or process over its entire life cycle. A life cycle can be understood as the life story of the raw material, its production, processing, transport,  use phase, and end of life (recycling etc.). Usually LCA aims to prioritise improvements on products or processes, and help compare the environmental impact of different products. LCA is the standardised method for calculating carbon footprint and assessing the environmental aspects of a product as regulated by ISO 14040.

Example of LCA for agricultural production

Net Zero refers to a state in which human-made GHG emissions released to the atmosphere are balanced by removal of GHG out of the atmosphere, so the net sum of all emissions is zero. Many companies and governments have set goals to achieve net zero, or carbon neutrality, by 2050, to see human-made emissions lower and to limit global warming to 1.5°C above industrial levels. However, the Net Zero strategy is debated and has raised concerns of the risks of an over-reliance on carbon removal strategies and offsetting rather than focusing on emissions reduction, consequently not addressing the behavioural and societal transformation necessary to reduce emissions.

Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 Parties in Paris in 2015. Its goal is to lower human-made GHG emissions to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels, to limit the threat of climate change.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions are how GHG emissions from companies are classified according to the Global GHG protocol on how to report emissions.

  • Scope 1 are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, such as fuel for company-owned vehicles
  • Scope 2 are indirect emissions associated with purchased electricity and other energy sources
  • Scope 3 emissions include all other indirect emissions that occur throughout a company’s value-chain, both upstream and downstream

Understanding the carbon footprint of a business and knowing which activities cause Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions respectively is an important first step in developing and implementing effective climate solutions and taking action to lower human-made GHG emissions and their negative impact on the environment.

Now you know the essential jargon and definitions of the climate debate! It is now up to you to use them to shape the world you want to live in and be part of the conversation. Join us in our effort to be climate-conscious and take climate actions, one meal at a time.

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