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Climate change definitions

If you're new to climate change terminology, we've compiled a glossary of definitions to support you on your business' journey to net zero.

  • Carbon neutral means reducing emissions where possible and compensating for the remainder by investing in carbon offset projects to achieve net zero overall emissions. Note, there a numerous definitions available for carbon neutral. For the purposes of this website, carbon neutrality is defined in accordance with Climate Active.
  • Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns.
  • Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by a person or business. The greater release of CO2, the greater your carbon footprint.
  • Climate positive means that businesses go above and beyond achieving net zero.
  • Climate neutral refers to reducing all GhG to the point of zero while eliminating all other negative environmental impacts that an organisation may cause.
  • Carbon negative (same as ‘climate positive’).
  • Carbon offset projects are projects that prevent, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
  • Decarbonisation is the term used for removal or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) output into the atmosphere.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHG) are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that have an influence on the earth’s energy balance. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
  • Fossil fuels are fuels containing carbon and hydrogen, found in the Earth’s crust, that are burned for energy. Examples include coal, oil and natural gas.
  • Net zero emissions, or net zero is when you balance the greenhouse gas (GHG) released into the atmosphere against an equivalent amount removed.
  • Offsets, also known as carbon offsets, are generated from an activity that prevents, reduces or removes greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
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