Get to grips with Net Zero-related words with our Jargon-Buster

Sometimes, it can be easy to get blinded by science when it comes to some of the words and phrases associated with climate change and achieving Net Zero.

At CBN Expert, we always try to give out advice and guidance in plain English, so it’s easy to understand.

However, there are some terms, words or phrases we use which may have you reaching for the dictionary.

So, in a bid to keep things simple, here is a jargon-buster, featuring a glossary of some of the most common words and phrases you might hear on your journey towards Net Zero…

 BEIS – The Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, which is responsible for energy, innovation and climate change.

BECCS – Short for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, a greenhouse gas mitigation technology which produces negative carbon dioxide emissions by combining bioenergy use with geologic carbon capture and storage.

Carbon – The chemical element which forms the basis of all living organisms. Also, the shorthand for carbon dioxide (CO²) and other greenhouse gases.

Carbon budget – A cap on the total quantity of carbon pollution emitted by a person, industry, country or the world as a whole; indicating how much can be released to keep global temperatures below an agreed limit.

Carbon capture & storage – Capture, transport and geological (or other) storage of CO² from electricity generators and other industrial sources.

Carbon competitiveness – A country or company’s level of readiness to prosper in a low-carbon global economy.

Carbon credit – A certificate or permit which allows an organisation to emit one tonne of CO² or a greenhouse gas with a CO² equivalent equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide.

Carbon cycle – The continuous exchange of carbon in various forms between the air and the oceans, and with living things by plant photosynthesis and plant and animal respiration.

Carbon Dioxide – A colourless greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, formed by respiration or the combustion of carbon. Other greenhouse gases are often converted to CO² equivalents.

Carbon Farming – Farming and other land uses that store carbon in soil and vegetarian and reduce emissions from livestock and other agricultural sources.

Carbon Footprint – A measure of the CO² released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities or industries.

Carbon neutral – Achieved where there is no net release of CO² into the atmosphere; either through zero emissions or offsetting.

Carbon offsetting – An activity that reduces emissions or removes CO² from the atmosphere to counterbalance activities that release CO².

Carbon permit – The right to emit carbon pollution, measured in tonnes.

Carbon pollution – CO² and other greenhouse gases released by humans which accumulate in the air, trap heat, and raise the average global temperature, upsetting the natural balance.

Carbon price – A monetary cost on carbon pollution, intended to stimulate investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and other low-carbon technologies.

Carbon productivity – The amount of GDP produced per unit of carbon pollution emitted.

Carbon trading – Buying and selling carbon permits in a market.

Climate change – A long-term shift in global weather patterns or average temperatures.

Clean Growth Strategy – The UK Government’s strategy to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy during the 2020s, to help it meet international commitments to tackle climate change.

Decentralised energy – Energy that is generated close to where it will be used, rather centrally. Sources of decentralised energy include renewables like hydro, combined heat and power (CHP), biomass, solar and wind power.

Electricity Market Reform – A Government policy to incentivise investment in secure, low-carbon electricity, enhance the security of electricity supply, and improve affordability.

Emissions Reduction Pledge (2020) – A voluntary target and reporting framework for public sector organisations, to help standardise reporting and encourage future action on decarbonisation.

Emissions Trading System – A market-based ‘cap and trade’ on emissions, allowing organisations to buy and sell permits for emissions or credits.

Energy recovery – The process of converting waste materials into useable energy or fuel through a number of methods including combustion, gasification and anaerobic digestion. 

ESOS – Short for the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, a policy which requires all companies with more than 250 employees or a turnover of more than €50m to produce detailed reports on their energy use and efficiency every four years.

Energy storage – Generating and capturing energy at one point in time and using it at a later date.

Global warming – A gradual increase in the world’s average temperature due to the release of emissions from burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gas – An atmospheric gas, such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Kyoto Protocol – An international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the EU to reduce their CO² emissions.

Net energy – The energy available for economic growth once the energy used to obtain it has been taken into account. Fracking, for example, uses one unit of energy for every five units obtained.

Net Zero – Balancing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted with the equivalent emissions that are offset through carbon credits or sequestered through rewilding or carbon capture and storage.

Renewable energy – Energy source derived from natural resources that does not deplete when used, such as wind, solar, geothermal or tidal power.

Renewable Heat Incentive – A Government scheme which provides a 20-year subsidy to eligible generators of non-domestic renewable heat in the UK.

SECR – Short for Streamlined Energy Carbon Reporting, a set of sustainability regulations which came into force in 2019 and require large businesses to publicly report on their energy use, carbon emissions and energy efficiency actions.

Tidal energy – A renewable energy source which converts the energy of tidal waters into electricity.

Wind power – A renewable energy source obtained by utilising air flow to generate electricity or mechanical power.

Zero-Carbon Future – A term used to describe a future global economy where economic activity produces zero net carbon emissions.

Confused? You needn’t be.

CBN Expert was created to make it easier for any business in the UK to start their journey towards Net Zero, by giving them the tools they need to understand their current position, make the necessary changes and track their progress.

Our CBN Expert Dashboard can help you take the first step towards Net Zero.

Get in touch today to find out more.