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Glossary to sustainability and carbon-related terms

Image de Noah Buscher


Activity-based data

Activity data involves specific and comprehensive information collected throughout a company's value chain. These data are expressed in units such as kilograms, kilometers, etc. Activity data in carbon accounting allows for more accurate emission calculations.



Carbon accounting

Carbon accounting is the process of measuring, tracking, and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It helps organizations understand the amount of GHGs they emit, identify areas where they can reduce their emissions, and develop strategies to meet their emission reduction goals.

Carbon credit

A carbon credit is a transferrable financial instrument that represents the reduction or removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is a unit of measurement used to compare the emissions of various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential (GWP), by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential.


Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

CDP is a not-for-profit organization that runs a global disclosure system. It collects and shares environmental data, including carbon emissions, to encourage businesses and governments to measure, manage, disclose, and reduce their environmental impact.


Carbon footprint

Carbon footprint equals the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by an individual, organization, or product, usually expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).


Carbon neutrality

Carbon neutrality is the state of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, balancing human-caused emissions with carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.


Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting is the process of compensating for carbon emissions by funding projects that reduce or absorb an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR refers to a business approach that integrates social and environmental concerns into its operations and interactions with stakeholders.

Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD)

The CSDDD is a proposal from the European Commission to introduce mandatory due diligence across the EU. This directive will require companies to publish information on identified sustainability risks, including those from their suppliers, and to take measures to prevent these risks


Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is a European Union legislation that mandates large companies and listed SMEs to publish reports on the impact of their corporate activities on the environment and society, introducing new requirements for non-financial reporting.




Decarbonization is the process of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It involves transitioning away from fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and towards cleaner sources of energy as well ad implementing practices that minimize carbon emissions.


Downstream emissions

Downstream emissions refer to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced as a result of the consumption or use of products and services by end-users. emissions

Double materiality assessment

Double materiality assessment is a concept that considers both the impact of a company's activities on the environment and society, as well as the impact of environmental and social factors on the company's financial performance.




ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. These criteria are used to assess and evaluate the consideration of environmental, social, and governance factors in the operations and investment decisions of a company. They provide a framework for measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business.

Emission factors

An emission factor (EF) is a coefficient that quantifies the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) released into the atmosphere per unit of a specific activity. It serves as a conversion factor, facilitating the transformation of activity data (such as energy consumption or production levels) into equivalent carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e).


GHG protocol (Greenhouse Gas Protocol) 

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is an international standard for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. It provides a framework for classifying emissions into scope 1, 2, and 3 categories, which are used to assess and manage the environmental impact of an organization's operations.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that has developed a framework for sustainability reporting. It provides guidelines and principles for organizations to report on their environmental, social, and governance performance.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions refer to the release of gases into the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect, trapping heat and leading to global warming and climate change. The main greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases, among others, which have varying global warming potentials and contribute to the overall impact on the climate



Greenwashing is the practice of misleading consumers about the environmental benefits of a product or service. It can involve making false or exaggerated claims about a company's environmental practices, using vague or misleading environmental labels, or simply failing to disclose the company's actual environmental impact.


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a methodology for assessing the environmental impacts of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to final disposal. 


Net zero

Net zero means reaching a balance between the total greenhouse gases emitted and those removed, thereby preventing impact on global warming


Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change adopted at COP 21 in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015. It seeks to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Product Carbon Footprint (PCF)

A Product Carbon Footprint is a measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with a product throughout its life cycle. It is typically expressed in units of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).


Science-based targets

Science-based targets (SBTs) are emissions reduction targets that are in line with the latest climate science and are necessary to limit global warming in line with the Paris Agreement. The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a global organization that helps companies set science-based targets.


Scope 1, 2 and 3

Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions are classifications developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to categorize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a company's or organization's operations.

Spend-based data

Spend-based data calculates emissions by multiplying the financial value of purchased goods or services by an emission factor. These data are typically expressed in monetary units and serve as a broad proxy for emission estimation.


Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)

SECR is a sustainability reporting framework that is mandatory for large organizations in the United Kingdom (UK). It requires these organizations to report on their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global objectives established by the United Nations to address social, economic, and environmental challenges and promote sustainable development worldwide.



Upstream emissions

Upstream emissions are greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that occur during the production and extraction phases of the supply chain, extending from raw material extraction to the point of production.

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