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The Carbon Jargon

You will have come across a lot of new terminology recently. We've put together a list of the most commonly used terms for you.

Click on an item below to find out more about it.

Have we missed anything? Let us know!

  • Active Travel

    Active travel means making journeys in physically active ways - like walking, wheeling (using a wheelchir or mobility aid), cycling, or scooting. 

  • Adaptation

    Adapting to climate change means taking action to prepare for and adjust to both the current effects of climate change the predicted impacts in the future.

  • Air quality

    Air quality is a measure of how clean or polluted the air is. Monitoring air quality is important because polluted air can be bad for our health—and the health of the environment. Air quality is measured with the Air Quality Index, or AQI.

  • Biodiversity

    Biodiversity is a term used to describe the enormous variety of life on Earth. It can be used more specifically to refer to all of the species in one region or ecosystem. Biodiversity refers to every living thing, including plants, bacteria, animals, and humans. 

  • Carbon Dioxide

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. CO2 is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle–both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests and soils, to remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation.

  • Carbon neutral

    Means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere from a company’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed.

  • Carbon-neutral vs Net Zero Carbon

    When carbon-neutral refers to balancing out the total amount of carbon emissions, net-zero carbon means no carbon was emitted from the get-go, so no carbon needs to be captured or offset.

  • Carbon negative

    Means the same thing as “climate positive.”

  • Carbon positive

    Is how organisations describe climate positive and carbon negative. It’s mainly a marketing term, and understandably confusing.

  • Carbon sinks

    Are any systems that absorb more carbon than they emit, such as forests, soils, peatlands, saltmarshes and oceans.

  • Circular Economy

    A circular economy involves sharing, repairing, reusing, leasing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible, to extend their life cycle and recycling as a last resort.

  • Climate Change

    Climate change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.

  • Climate Justice

    Climate justice is a concept that addresses the just division, fair sharing, and equitable distribution of the benefits and burdens of climate change and responsibilities to deal with climate change 

  • Climate positive

    It occurs when a company removes or captures more CO2 from the atmosphere than it even emits. Then, the company has a negative amount of carbon emissions and positively impacts the climate.

  • Consumerism

    Buying goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. 

  • Ecosystem Services

    The direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human wellbeing, and have an impact on our survival and quality of life

  • Fossil Fuels

    Fuels, such as gas, coal, and oil, that were formed underground from plant and animal remains millions of years ago. When fossil fuels are burned, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere, causing global warming.

  • Global Warming

    Global warming refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • Global Warming Potential

    The Global Warming Potential (GWP) was developed to allow comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases. Specifically, it is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 ton of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).

  • Green-and Blue-Infrastructure

    Blue-green infrastructure refers to the use of blue elements, like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, water treatment facilities, and green elements, such as trees, forests, fields and parks, in urban and land-use planning. This helps address air quality, flooding, health & wellbeing, biodiversity, heat networks, heat island effects, and active travel routes. 

  • Green House Gas (GHG)

    Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. There are four main greenhouse gasses: Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane, Fluorinated gas, and Nitrous Oxide. These remain in the atmosphere for different amounts of time, ranging from a few years to thousands of years. All of these gases remain in the atmosphere long enough to become well mixed, meaning that the amount that is measured in the atmosphere is roughly the same all over the world, regardless of the source of the emissions. Some gases are more effective than others at warming the planet.

  • Heat Island Effect

    Temperatures are much higher within city areas compared to rural areas. This is because of poor air quality, trapping heat, and the proximity of buildings which stops air from flowing freely. 

  • Just Transition

    Just Transition is a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This means approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste-free. 

  • Mitigation

    Climate Change Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behaviour. It can be as complex as a plan for a new city, or as a simple as improvements to a cook stove design.

  • Nature-based solutions

    Nature-based solutions harness the power of nature to boost natural ecosystems, biodiversity and human well-being to address major societal issues, including climate change, e.g. Broughty Ferry dune restoration to manage flooding. 

  • Net-Zero

    The balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.

  • Net Zero-Carbon

    This means that no carbon is emitted in the first place.

  • Resilience

    Ensure our communities, green networks and infrastructure are adaptable to a changing climate and reduce the risks and vulnerability to unavoidable impacts 

  • Rewilding

    Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It's about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife's natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats. 

  • Smart Cities

    A smart city is a regional area that uses electronic and technology-based infrastructure such as information and communication technology (ICT) to collect real-time data and insights, provide certain important services, and solve city problems.

    Smart cities are also used to improve the city’s day to day operations, such as public transportation, power and water supply, and sanitation systems. Using this data, the local government can then make informed decisions on creating effective solutions to rectify these prevailing city problems. 

  • Sustainability

    Sustainability is concerned with looking after our natural environment whilst ensuring a strong economy and a fair and healthy society. These three pillars of economy, environment and society are dependent on each other for a Sustainable Dundee.

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  • Sustainable living

    Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce the use of Earth's natural resources by an individual or society. It is often called "earth harmony living" or "net zero living", for example reducing energy and car usage, reducing waste and consumerism.

  • Sustainable Mobility/Transport

    Sustainable mobility refers to the provision of infrastructure, services, technologies, and information to enable access to goods and services, and participation in activities in a manner that, like all other forms of “sustainability,” allows for the continuation of such access and participation across future generations 

  • Weather vs Climate

    The weather is a snapshot of the atmosphere at a given time, climate refers to the atmospheres behaviour over years and years.