Climate Terms A-Z

There are many different terms and definitions used to determine what is climate change and what affects it.

We have collected all the common terms and put them together so they are easy to understand and to be used in the correct manner.

Some term names may vary slightly as companies tend not to all stick to the most common variants of them.

Climate Change Definition

What does Climate Change really mean? It refers to the change on a global scale to climate patterns that differ to what we had before (typically around the 20th century) largely because of human activity and the increases in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The burning of fossil fuels is a large result of this.

Climate Positive

One of the first steps to a better future. Where this term is used, it's for those who are starting out on their climate-focused journey. Typically, if a company says they are climate positive, it means they recognise that something must be done to slow global warming, but haven't particularly at this time put words into action.

Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutral is the term used to describe when a company offsets the amount of CO2 it produces by other means. On our add a new company form, we use this as the first indication of a companies attitude to climate change.

For example, if a company produced 50 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, it could become carbon neutral by purchasing carbon credits from verified projects, i.e. planting trees.

Some argue this is a great first step, but isn't always enough, and the source of the problem is the amount of annual CO2 that the company produces. Coupled with reducing the total amount of CO2 produced on a yearly basis and help companies move towards a greener CO2 baseline, i.e. none!

Carbon Negative

Carbon negative is the term used to describe when a company is going one step further than carbon neutrality. It means that a company is offsetting the total yearly amount of emissions plus more than it produces. For example, if a company produces 75 tonnes of CO2 per year, and offsets 100 tonnes of CO2, it'll be classed as a carbon-negative company.

Just imagine if every company was caron negative?

Net Zero

The Paris agreement set out that we must keep the planet's temperature within 1.5c of warming. Producing zero emissions is extremely hard and therefore companies claiming to be net zero must show evidence of this, through carbon capture or carbon storage, for example. That should include theirs and along their supply chain.

ICE Vehicles

ICE, which stands for Internal Combustion Engine i.e. any petrol and diesel engine, is the term used when referring to vehicles that produce harmful CO2 (amongst other PM2.5 particulates). We've ranked the automotive industry, listing companies and their efforts towards climate change as well as which countries will ban ICE vehicles along with promised dates and if it is part of government law.


PM which stands for Particulate Matter and 2.5 stands for the size (in microns) or less in diameter, are fine particles released into the atmosphere which have links to serious health problems in humans, typically produced from ICE cars.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is a colourless gas produced as a by-product from various methods, that has links to global warming, human health problems and coral refer bleaching, to name a few.

What is the IPCC and what do they do?

The IPCC or The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the UN (United Nations) body that evaluates climate change science. Founded in 1988, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the IPCC compiles key findings from hundreds of studies from thousands of scientists and experts to provide a clear comprehensive view on climate change, which they release as reports, every 5/7 years, also known as assessment cycles. The reports aim to review and surmise the data via large amounts of peer reviews and critiques, which have in turn made the IPCC the accepted authority on climate change from both leading climate change scientists and member states.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide, also known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). It's one of many ways to reduce the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. Not only do we need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the air in the future, but we need to also remove the carbon dioxide that's already in the air, to reduce global warming. Carbon capture could be one of the main resources we've got to tackle this problem. The method of carbon capture consists of capturing CO2 (which involves separating it from other gases in the air), transporting the captured CO2, either by pipeline networks, road, or shipped. Finally, the gas is stored, by injecting it into rocks deep underground. Currently, this method is very expensive, in the early stages of development, and if proven successful, up-scaling this method at cost could be a challenge.

What is a Carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by an individual or organisation over a given time frame. It is also measured by greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and other gases which are emissions resulting from human activity. Everything that we do from eating, travelling, and sending an email, all has a carbon footprint. There are many ways to lower your own carbon footprint; however, if you're looking for ways to help, here are some ways that you can. Reduce your daily consumption, say 'NO' to plastic, walk instead of drive and even turn off the water tap during brushing your teeth.

What is COP26?

COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) is the 26th climate change conference that will be hosted in the United Kingdom, Scotland, Glasgow from 31st October - 12th November 2021. Its aim is to bring together heads of state, climate experts, scientists, and campaigners to agree on the action required to tackle climate change. The conference will consist of over 190 world leaders and there are hopes to achieve another major step forwards with the critical actions required to combat climate change, with such success during the 21st conference (COP21), where the Paris Agreement was signed and agreed on by 196 parties in Paris, France.

COP26 will cover topics that include the need to implement the Paris Agreement and to reaffirm the necessary commitment from governments to implement these agreements. Furthermore, the conference will focus on issues such as implementing policies, monitoring the progress of implementation, incorporating climate actions into global economic and financial institutions and moving towards a more sustainable future.

Much of the conference's focus will be on the Global Climate Action Agenda. One action that the heads of state and government will address is the promotion of renewable energy, with one of the key goals being to produce at least 30 percent of global energy through renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, a commitment will be made to better regulate the aviation and shipping industries as well as creating a 2050 timeframe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The conference will also address other key topics such as actions to support developing nations with climate change as well as the needs to prevent the increase of hurricanes and violent storms. The conference will be a crucial opportunity for the United Kingdom to receive praise and support from other nations.

What is 1.5c global warming?

When 1.5c degrees global warming temperatures are referenced, it relates to the predicted temperature globally that we must limit ourselves to, ensure that we do not go beyond 2c, above pre-industrial levels. Even with a rise of 1.5c globally, we are likely to, 3% probability of an ice-free Arctic summer, losing 4% of mammal's habitat, and a 41% increase in the number of wildfires on average. Double that temperature to 3c by 2050 and things get a lot worst. With 63% probability of an ice-free Arctic summer, losing 41% of mammal's habitat and a 97% increase in the number of wildfires on average.

How many electric car sales were there in 2020?

In 2020, globally there were 3 million car sales. With the biggest increase in China and Germany, closely followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. By 2030, it's predicted we need to sell at least 56 million per year to reach net-zero targets. As the demand for electric car sales goes up the exponential effect means that the purchase price point will start to go down because the cost of the battery cells and components will be reduced.

What is a lithium-ion battery?

A lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is made up of one or more electrodes and a solution containing an electrolyte, which is a component of electrochemistry. When lithium ions are added to the battery, a positive electric charge is created that flows through the electrode, and the battery is charged. When lithium ions are taken out of the battery, the battery is discharged. The amount of lithium ions is dependent on the composition of the battery, how it is manufactured, and how it is filled with electrolytes. At higher voltage levels, the charge can also change in value. Lithium-ion batteries are made up of one or more electrodes, and a solution containing an electrolyte.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump or Air source heat pump (ASHP) is an alternative way to heat homes. Instead of using gas combi boilers (like 9 out of 10 UK homes), heat pumps are one of the most effective ways of heating homes and businesses. They work by absorbing heat from the outside air (even temperatures below 0c) to help lower bills and are better for the environment. The device uses the energy from the energy grid to heat or cool a building in winter or in summer. Most heat pumps use a compressor to create the airflow in the system and an air-to-air heat exchanger that is air- or water-cooled to efficiently circulate the air. In this way, heat pumps transfer the energy from the grid to the building. A heat pump operates like a central heating system (heating or cooling) for the outdoors in the summer, providing consistent heat during hot periods of the day. But in the winter, they operate like a domestic hot water system (heating or cooling) for the home, with heat used on demand to maintain a constant indoor temperature.

What is a 15-minute city?

Put simply, a 15-minute city is a concept of improving a city's air and quality of life by changing an urban development so that everything you need day-to-day is within 15 minutes by either walking, biking, public transport, or using shared micromobility services. E-scooters play a huge part here and the idea and new paradigm shift create a world where we rely less on car dependency in our cities, which not only do they currently produced extreme levels of air pollution, but make our streets highly congested. By switching to a 15-minute model, we'll be able to create more open spaces, make our cities safer, and change our urban areas into a welcoming place for all. A 15-minute city is one where people are the focus, as opposed to cars, where micromobility replaces traditional car parking spaces, allowing for greater connection between different areas and transportation networks. A 15-minute city is a bold move and will take local leaders and regional government figures to come together and push the ambition of transforming cities and urban mobility into a sustainable future.

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