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Glossary for Sustainability

We know sustainability can be complicated. That’s why we’ve broken down all the key terms and jargon you may come across through your Climate Education journey.

A - G

Active Transport – taking part in physical activity as part of travel e.g. walking, cycling, running, jogging, scootering, skateboarding etc

Adaptation – process in which a living things change over time to be able to exist in a specific environment. The changes in our climate means we need to alter our behaviour, systems and ways of life to protect us from the impacts of climate change.

Air Quality – the degree to which the air is free from pollutants, contaminants, and harmful substances that may negatively impact human health, ecosystems, and the environment.

Anthropocene – current geological age, where human activity has been the dominant influence on our climate and environment.

Atmosphere – mixture of gases surrounding the earth.

Biodegradable – able to be broken down and absorbed by earth with no toxins left behind. (does depend on the conditions and other bacterial microorganisms)

Biodiversity – the number and variety of different living and growing organisms in a natural environment.

Bio Mass – renewable energy from plants, animals, or microorganisms.

Biosphere – part of earths atmosphere where life exists.

Blue Carbon –  carbon that is captured and stored in ocean and coastal ecosystems.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – product of pollution created when burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

Carbon Cycle – the movement between living organisms, and the environment, through natural processes like photosynthesis, respiration and decomposition. As well as the burning of fossil fuels.

Carbon Drawdown/Removal –  process of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and locking it away in plants, soils, oceans, rocks, saline aquifers, depleted oil wells or long-lived produces like cement.

Carbon Emissions – carbon dioxide produced by planes, cars, factories etc.

Carbon Footprint – the total emissions produced as a result of an activity.

Carbon Neutral – equalling carbon emissions and carbon capture.

Carbon Zero – a product or activity that produces no carbon emissions during the production or operation of.

Circular Economy – products are used in a circular way to design out waste.

Climate Action – positive steps and actions taken to tackle climate change and its impacts.

Climate Adaptation – actions and steps taken to manage and live with the impacts of climate change.

Climate Change – the long-term shift in global weather patterns and temperatures.

Climate Justice – contribute positively to society and the environment through social, environmental, and ethical activities.

Compostable –  organic items which can be decayed and used as fertiliser to enhance soil health and plant growth.

Conscious Consumerism – purchasing products, goods, and services that are produced and procurement in a responsible way.

COP – UN Conference of the Parties, bringing nations together to address the process being made against the SDGs.

Decarbonisation – the reduction of emissions through behavior change and responsible purchasing.

Deforestation – destruction of forests, often by cutting down trees.

Ecosystem – a system of relationships living together in one environment.

E-Waste – discarded electronic products.

Eco Anxiety – the fear of environmental decline.

Eco Friendly – something that is not or less harmful to the environment.

Emissions –  greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere due to human activity.

Environmental Management System – process and practices to enable the reduction of environmental impact.

EV – electric vehicle.

Fair Trade – partnership trading between producers and purchasers to ensure workers get a fair share.

Fossil Fuels – non-renewable fuels such as gas, coal and oil.

Global Warming – the increase in global temperatures due to human activities.

Greenhouse Effect – occurs when the gases in earths atmosphere trap the heat from the sun, resulting in rising temperatures.

Greenhouse Gases –  7 gases that are trap heat in our atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and 3 fluorinated gases (PFCs, HFCs and SF6).

Greenwashing – making people believe that someone is doing more to protect the environment than they actually are.

H - P

Microplastics – tiny plastic parts that measure less than 5mm.

Mitigation – efforts to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases.

Nature Based Solutions – inspired and supported by nature to offer environmental, social, and economic benefits, as well as increasing resilience.

Net Zero Emissions – reduction of emissions in line with limiting global warming to 1.5oc.

Off-Setting –  the process of balancing the emissions from one activity with the reduction or elimination in others.

Organic – made from natural materials without the use of harmful chemicals.

Overconsumption – excessive use of resources and generation of waste beyond the Earth’s carrying capacity.

Permaculture – system of growing which causes little damage to the environment, so can be used for continued amounts of time.

Pollution –  release of harmful substances, contaminants, or pollutants into the environment, including air, water, and soil, resulting in adverse effects on human health, ecosystems, and the environment.

Q - Z

Rain Water Harvesting – collection and storage of rainwater to reduce the use of freshwater resources.

Recycle –  processing materials that would otherwise have been thrown away into new materials.

Regeneration – improving the ecological health and biodiversity.

Renewable Energy – sourced from replenishable resources such as sun, water, wind.

Rewilding – protection of an environment by returning it to its natural state.

Scope 1 Emissions – directly controlled activities resulting in emissions.

Scope 2 Emissions – indirect emissions resulting in the use or purchase of products and services responsible for emissions.

Scope 3 Emissions – indirect emissions out of your direct control.

Single Use – something that is designed to be used only once and then thrown away.

Sustainability – ensuring that todays activities do not impact future generations.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 interlocked global goals from the UN across 193 countries to ensure the future of all.

Traceability –  being able to trace the origins, movements, and materials.

The Paris Agreement – the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 nations at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Tipping Point – the time at which a change or effect cannot be stopped.

Upcycling – taking old items and redesigning or reworking them into something new.

Waste Stream – the complete cycle of waste from use to recovery, recycling, or disposal.

Zero Waste –  removal of waste disposal such as landfill or burning.