Alphabet Soup: An Introductory Sustainability Glossary

ESG? CDP? UN SDG? What’s it all mean?

With the rapid evolution of corporate sustainability, it can be difficult to keep up with all the names, jargon, and shorthand.

If you are just getting started, here are some key terms you should know.

Carbon Accounting– The process by which organizations calculate and quantify their greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)– A naturally occurring gas that traps heat in the atmosphere that is released by burning fossil fuels. The most common type of greenhouse gas.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)– A not-for-profit charity that runs a voluntary greenhouse gas disclosure framework for investors, companies, cities, states and regions that want to report their environmental impact.

Carbon Footprint– The amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by a particular organization.

Carbon Neutral– When an organization’s carbon dioxide emissions are neutralized by other activities undertaken by the organization or on its behalf via carbon offsets.

Carbon Offset– An action intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity, especially when quantified and traded as part of a commercial program.

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)– A set of standards for a company’s actions used by socially conscious investors to evaluatee a company’s performance.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG)– Any gas that traps solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere and contributes to global warming and climate change.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol– A comprehensive framework and global standard to measure and manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from private and public sector organizations.

Internal Carbon Pricing– An internal monetary value placed on greenhouse gas emissions by an organization, which can then be factored into investment decisions and business operations.

Internal Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)– An independent, private-sector body created to deliver a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards that provide investors and other capital market participants with information about companies’ sustainability-related risks and opportunities to help them make informed decisions.

Net Zero– A target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Science-based Targets– Sustainability goals that are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi)– International cooperative organization providing best practices, guidance, methods, and evaluations of science-based targets.

Scope 1 Emissions– GHG emissions that are directly created by a person or organization. Ex: Coal to generate electricity.

Scope 2 Emissions– GHG emissions are indirectly produced through purchase or lease activity. Ex: Electricity purchased to power an office.

Scope 3 Emissions– GHG emissions that are indirectly produced in and organization’s value chain. Ex: Fuel emissions created by transporting purchased products to a facility.

Scope 4 Emissions– GHG emissions that are avoided through innovation or process improvement by an organization. Ex: Emissions saved by creating a product that uses less raw materials.

Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD)– A task force created to develop recommendations on the types of information that companies should disclose to support investors, lenders, and insurance underwriters in appropriately assessing and pricing a specific set of risks related to climate change.

UN Global Compact– A voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support United Nations’ goals.

UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG)– An urgent call to action by all countries in a global partnership to address 17 pressing issues such as climate change, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, world hunger and poverty.

Now that you’re confident with the basics of sustainability, jumpstart your sustainability journey with Green Impact! Our team of experts can confidently guide you through the process of tracking, reducing, and offsetting your greenhouse gas emissions! Schedule a discovery call with us today!

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