Heard lots about climate change, rising temperatures, reducing emissions but baffled with some of the terminology and acronyms? To help simplify some of the key terms, take a look at our jargon buster.
Emissions are greenhouse gases that are released when we use energy, drive our cars, conduct manufacturing processes, build houses and infrastructure. Material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, heat, lighting all use energy and in turn, generate emissions and these emissions are collectively referred to as our carbon footprint.
Greenhouse Gases - also known as GHG
These are gases that once released into the atmosphere, trap heat and lead to rising global temperatures. They include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.
In 2015 the Paris Agreement was established where nearly 200 countries signed up to an ambitious agreement to keep global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, pursuing efforts to hold it at no more than 1.5°C. Carbon emission targets can be defined as science-based IF it meets these criteria.
You can commit to set a science-based target and follow the guidelines set as part of your decarbonisation journey. Read more.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations along with 193 world leaders developed seventeen ambitious goals, all with the aim of ending extreme poverty and hunger, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change. The focus of these sustainable development goals, also known as SDGs, is to create a better and more sustainable future for ALL.
It makes sense to align your green strategy with a number of relevant SDGs rather than tackling all 17 goals and you can review them here.
At Midas, we support the following six goals as they match really well with our manufacturing business and efforts to reduce carbon and our impact on the environment.
To become carbon neutral you need to ensure that the greenhouse gas emissions you produce are balanced with emissions being removed from the atmosphere. This is typically achieved using carbon credit offsets.
Being carbon neutral means you are not making global warming worse, but also not improving it.
A carbon-neutral business only needs to offset the greenhouse gases it produces – it does not need to make a commitment to decreasing emissions. It could even increase emissions as long as it bought enough carbon credits to offset.
Carbon net-zero also requires that the greenhouse gases produced by a person /business/country are balanced out by the amount of emissions offset BUT the key difference being that net-zero also demands a commitment to reduce emissions.
Very few businesses or countries can continually reduce and remove all emissions, so carbon offsetting, sequestering, and mitigation programs are used.
Carbon-negative means creating less emissions than what you use, thus having a positive impact on climate change. There are similar terms such as carbon positive and climate positive which are just marketing terminology and mean the same as carbon negative.
Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. Whilst immediate actions focus on carbon emission reduction, removing excessive carbon in the atmosphere through sequestration will become the ultimate goal in reversing rising global temperatures.
The carbon sequestration process can be natural such as increasing tree cover to act as huge carbon sinks, or artificial, where technology is used to capture generated C02 and store it.
An example would be where carbon emissions are captured at the point of production and then buried deep in the ocean, creating vast C02 lakes.
Whilst efforts and new innovation should focus on emission reduction, carbon offsetting will be for many, an essential part of their journey to carbon net-zero. Carbon offsetting should only be used when all efforts have been employed to reduce emissions, otherwise, they just become a voluntary carbon pollution tax.
Carbon credits are created by verified projects that can prove they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help preserve biodiversity and wildlife. By definition, one carbon credit equates to either the permanent removal or avoidance of one tonne of C02.
As a business, if you purchase one carbon credit you are ‘allowed’ to emit or offset one tonne of carbon in your calculations to achieve net-zero. Once a carbon credit has been bought, the credit is permanently retired and cannot be re-used.
In order to generate carbon credits, changes in land use such as increasing tree cover and peatland are commonplace. They have the added benefit of generating employment and improving wildlife and biodiversity.
High-quality carbon credits will be verified and registered. The Gold Standard has become the global benchmark for the highest integrity and greatest impact in climate and development initiatives however, there are many other resources to consider, including those on your doorstep in the UK
Midas supports a local reforestation scheme, the Forest of Marston Vale which is located just 3 miles down the road. The not-for-profit organisation is aiming to increase tree cover from 3% to 30% whilst improving biodiversity and creating a space for locals to enjoy. Marston Vale is one of 12 community Forests across the UK that have been set up by the Government to help with regeneration and sustainability. You can find out more about the other locations here.
A Woodland Carbon Unit (WCU)
A Woodland Carbon Unit (WCU) is a tonne of CO2 that has been sequestered in a Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) verified woodland. The status means the woodland has been independently verified, is guaranteed to be there, and can be used by companies to report against UK-based emissions and used in claims of carbon neutrality or Net Zero emissions.
Woodland Carbon Code
This is a voluntary code to encourage a consistent approach to woodland carbon projects. In order to be a Woodland Carbon Code verified project, a number of strict criteria must be met including being independently verified and publicly registered.
If you are looking to invest in Woodland Carbon Units it is worth checking out the UK Land Carbon register for full disclosure.
A Pending Issuance Unit (PIU)
A Pending Issuance Unit (PIU) is effectively a ‘promise to deliver’ a Woodland Carbon Unit in the future, based on predicted sequestration. It is not ‘guaranteed’, and cannot be used to report against UK-based emissions until verified. However, it allows companies to plan to compensate for future UK-based emissions or make credible Corporate Social Responsible statements in support of woodland creation.
It is important that PUI owners do not make any claims for offsetting or carbon compensation until the PUI has been converted into Woodland Carbon Unit.
PAS 2060 Standard
Carbon neutral certification demonstrates an organisation's commitment to decarbonisation and PAS 2060 is the only internationally recognised standard for carbon neutrality.
The standard sets out requirements for quantification, reduction, and offsetting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for organisations, products, and events.
Organisations such as the Carbon Trust and BSI provide support and certification.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol,
A global initiative to standardise and provide a framework for emissions calculating and reporting for corporations and businesses. It can be used as a tool to calculate specific emissions under each of the three scopes, to generate a corporation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Understanding Scope Emission Categories
Greenhouse gas emissions have been categorised into three groups or 'Scopes' by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.
- Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and includes fuel combustion, company vehicle emissions, and fugitive emissions (pesky leaks and non-value-adding emissions).
These are within a company’s control to review and reduce.
- Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by the reporting company.
Again, easy for a company to directly review efficiencies to reduce consumption and switch to renewable energy.
- Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain which can typically account for the majority of emissions.
It is this scope that quite often accounts for the largest emissions so very worthwhile reporting on figures and setting targets to reduce through partnerships, switching materials, and buying local.
Areas to consider are purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, use of sold products, transportation and distribution (up and downstream), investments and leased assets and franchises.
Image courtesy of Greenhouse Gas Protocol
Corporate Social Responsibility
Also known as CSR, this refers to a Company’s commitment to practice social and environmental responsibility. It is becoming crucial as consumers and employees seek out how socially responsible a brand is before supporting them. Having a great social and sustainability message can bolster a company’s image, helping them to leverage a greater share of the market and boost employee morale.