Climate change jargon buster
From greenhouse gases to green recovery get on top of climate change with our jargon buster
The language around green issues can often be confusing, so we want to help clear things up with our jargon buster.
Greenhouse gases are mainly made up of carbon dioxide (80%), but also include methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.
Although greenhouse gases exist naturally, humans have caused them to increase dramatically.
Burning fossil fuels, like gas or coal is the main source of these gases, along with livestock from farming and waste.
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A carbon footprint is the impact we have on the environment. Most of our activity – directly or indirectly - leaves an impact on the environment that can be measured as carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. Read more about how to calculate your carbon footprint.
Carbon neutral means reducing direct carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible. Even though it could be impossible to create zero emissions, the amount of CO2 that is emitted can be offset through funding.
Offsetting refers to accredited natural schemes (such as planting forests) that remove carbon from the atmosphere.
We may have heard ‘green recovery’ more since the economy took a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. But essentially, it’s growing the economy in a way that supports the slowing and reversal of climate change caused by human activity.
It could include anything from investments in new technology to behavioural change - as long as it aims to cut emissions and have a positive effect on the climate.
COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is an annual United Nations Climate Summit to discuss how to tackle climate change.
Each COP has been important, but extra significance is being placed on COP26 because many climate experts and governments now believe the climate is changing at rate that will be difficult, or in some cases impossible, to reverse.
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While it’s easy to point to our homes or travelling as potentially the largest contributors to our carbon footprints, our smaller everyday choices could also have an impact.