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Absolute Zero  

The target of zero emissions is absolute - there are no negative emissions options or meaningful “carbon offsets.” Absolute Zero means zero emissions.

Active Travel 

A mode of travel that uses bodily activity. Examples would be walking, cycling or running. 


Anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise.

Adaptive Capacity  

Adaptive capacity is the potential or ability of a system, region, or community to adapt to the effects or impacts of climate change. Enhancement of adaptive capacity represents a practical means of coping with changes and uncertainties in climate, including variability and extremes.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD)  

Involves capturing the methane naturally produced from cow slurry to burn in a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine to produce electricity and hot water.  The University Farm has an Anaerobic Digestion plant. 

Autonomous Vehicle (AV) 

A vehicle which is capable of driving itself safely on the road without a human driver intervening.  


Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth. It includes all species of animals and plants – everything that is alive on our planet. Biodiversity is important for its own sake, and human survival depends upon it. 

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) 

The BREEAM New construction standards provide a framework to deliver high performing, and sustainable, newly built assets that support commercial success, whilst also creating positive environmental and social impact. We have a BREEAM policy available here.

Carbon accounting

The process of measuring how much carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) an organisation emits. 

Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas. CO₂ exists in the atmosphere due to natural processes like volcanic eruptions, however also due to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. 

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e)

For any greenhouse gas, the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) is the mass of CO₂ which would warm the earth as much as the mass of that gas. CO₂e provides a common scale for measuring the climate effects of all greenhouse gases. 

Cargo Bike 

A bike capable of carrying large loads, these come in several forms and usually have electric assist motors. They are used by businesses to transport goods and materials as well as by families to transport children. 

Circular Economy

Changing organisational processes by moving away from the linear economy, where organisations play their part in an economy which redesigns products to be more durable, reusable, repairable, and recyclable and where consumption is reduced, and nature is enhanced by the processes. 

Climate Change 

Climate change is the long-term shift in average weather patterns across the world, driven by global warming. 

Climate Emergency 

Serious and urgent problems that are being caused or likely to be caused by changes in the world's weather, in particular the world getting warmer as a result of human activity increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Continual Improvement

Recurring activity to enhance performance.

Corrective Action

Action to eliminate the cause of the nonconformity and prevent recurrence.


The process of stopping or reducing carbon gases, especially carbon dioxide, being released into the atmosphere as the result of a process, for example the burning of fossil fuels.

Direct emissions

Emissions that an organisation (for example) itself generates directly while performing its business activities (scope 1 emissions).  


The act of selling off a business or businesses, or of no longer investing money in something e.g., fossil fuels. 

Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) 

A form of public transport system that dispatches a vehicle to collect a passenger at a time and location specified by them and then takes them on to their desired destination. The system will combine journeys with other users where possible to maximise efficiency. 

Downstream emissions

Emissions that occur after an organisation has sold/provided its goods and services.  

Ecological Advisory Panel (EAP) 

The Ecological Advisory Panel is a sub-committee of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee providing strategic oversight of the University’s commitment to biodiversity and ecosystems.


All the living things in an area and the way they affect each other and the environment. 


In Carbon accounting, emissions refer to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions), and are measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂e). 


The right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment.


The situation in which everyone is treated fairly according to their needs and no group of people is given special treatment. 

Electric Vehicle (EV) 

Electric vehicles use electric motors to drive their wheels. They derive some or all of their power from large, rechargeable batteries. The distance an EV can drive between recharges is known as its range. 

Environmental Management System (EMS)

An EMS is similar to other management systems, such as those that manage quality or safety. It assesses an organisation's strengths and weaknesses, helps identify and manage significant environmental impacts, saves money by increasing efficiency, helps ensure compliance with environmental legislation and provides benchmarks for improvements.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 

In the UK, a document used when buying or selling a property, that shows how much of the energy supplied to a building is used and how much is wasted. 

Environmental Aspect

Element of an organisation’s activities or products or services that interacts or can interact with the environment.

Environmental Impact

Change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organisation’s environmental aspects.

Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee (ESSC) 

The Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee (ESSC) is a joint committee of the Council and the General Board which provides strategic oversight of the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability, recommending and reviewing strategies, policies, procedures and guidelines. 

Fossil Fuels 

A fossil fuel is a material formed from fossilised plant and animal remnants that have undergone heat and pressure over millions of years below the Earth’s surface. They are extracted and burned as a fuel. The main fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas.

Fugitive emissions

Fugitive emissions are leaks of gases and vapours from, for example, air-conditioning units. They are part of an organisation’s scope 1 emissions. 

Global Warming 

Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature.  This warming leads to climate change. 

Green House Effect 

The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth's atmosphere trap the Sun's heat. The greenhouse effect can lead to global warming, if there are too many GHG’s in the atmosphere. 

Green House Gas (GHG)  

A greenhouse gas is an atmospheric gas which warms the lower atmosphere by absorbing thermal radiation (heat energy). GHG have always been present in the atmosphere through natural processes. For example, the burning of fossil fuels, releases and increases CO2, an example of a GHG, into the atmosphere. 

Hybrid Electric Vehicle 

A vehicle that derives its power partly from electric motors and partly from a conventional fossil fuel engine. 

Interested Party

A person or organisation that can affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision or activity.


Then implementation of a programme or facility in order to enact change in behaviour patterns. 

Key performance indicators (KPI) 

A way of measuring a company's progress towards the goals it is trying to achieve.

Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV) 

A vehicle powered by burning fossil fuels inside a combustion engine.  


The way in which different types of discrimination (unfair treatment because of a person's sex, race, etc.) are connected to and affect each other.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) 

A method for evaluating the environmental impact of a commercial product or service through all stages of its life cycle, from cradle (raw material extraction) to grave (final disposal). 

Linear economy

An economy where resources are extracted, processed, used, and discarded. 

Materiality Assessment   

They help identify an organisation’s most 'material issues' and determine what should be reported. The process of identifying these issues involves reaching out to internal and external stakeholders to get their input. 


Mitigation of climate change means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Mitigation is a human intervention that reduces the sources of GHG emissions and/or enhances the sinks. 

Mode Split 

Mode split of transport means the percentage of journeys conducted by each mode of transport; this is derived from the annual staff travel survey. 

Net Zero   

Net-zero refers to balancing the amount of emitted greenhouse gases with the equivalent emissions that are either offset or sequestered. This should primarily be achieved through a rapid reduction in carbon emissions, but where zero carbon cannot be achieved, offsetting through carbon credits or sequestration through rewilding or carbon capture and storage needs to be utilised. 

Net Zero Carbon  

A “net-zero” target refers to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by a selected date, but differs from zero carbon, which requires no carbon to be emitted as the key criteria. 


Non-fulfilment of a requirement (legal, ISO 14001:2015 standard or other).


An issue, typically highlighted from an audit that requires attention in order to improve the operation of the EMS and that if left un-addressed is likely to lead to a non-conformance during future audits; or an example of good environmental practice that deserves recognition.

Plant-Based Food  

Food items consisting or made completely of plants, or mainly of plants. 

Plug-In Electric Vehicle 

An electric vehicle which is recharged by being plugged into a charging point. These can be solely electric or hybrid vehicles.  

Photovoltaic (PV)  

Able to produce electricity from light or relating to the process of doing this. PV panels are solar panels.  

Resilience (Climate) 

Climate resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate. Improving climate resilience involves assessing how climate change will create new, or alter current, climate-related risks, and taking steps to better cope with these risks. 

Responsible Investment 

An investment in a company whose business is not harmful to society or the environment. 

Risks and Opportunities

Potential adverse effects (risks) and potential beneficial effects (opportunities).

Ruminant Meat  

Meat from a type of animal that brings up food from its stomach and chews it again, for example a cow, sheep, or deer. 

Science Based Target  

Science-based targets show companies and financial institutions how much and how quickly businesses need to reduce their GHG emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change - leading them on a clear path towards decarbonization. 

Scope 1 emissions

Emissions that are directly produced by the organisation, for example use of the organisation's fleet of vehicles (burning of fuel) or the burning of gas in an organisation’s boilers to generate heat. 

Scope 2 emissions

Emissions are the indirect emissions generated by the production of purchased energy. The emission is an indirect emission as the GHG was not emitted ‘on site’. 

Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 emissions (also known as value chain emissions) are all indirect emissions that occur either upstream or downstream of the organisation’s value chain and are not already included within scope 2. These emissions are a consequence of the organisation’s business activities but occur from sources the organisation does not own or control. Example categories of scope 3 emissions include supply chain (including construction), travel and management of waste product. 

Supply chain emissions

Emissions that occur upstream in the organisation’s supply chain. Supply chain emissions are part of scope 3 emissions. They are also known as upstream emissions. 


Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is a target to aim for, when actions have been based on considerations that support society, the environment and the economy; our present and our future generations; the goal of sustainable development. 

Sustainable Development 

Progress that recognises benefits for society, the environment and the economy, the meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Procurement 

The process by which an organisation buys supplies produced in a way that is not harmful to the environment. Read more here

Sustainable Travel Modes 

Currently defined as any mode of transport other than solo car use.  

Top Management

Under the ISO14001:2015 standard, top management is the person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level. Top management has the power to delegate authority and provide resources within the organisation.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGS) 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.  

Upstream emissions

Emissions that occur in the organisation’s supply chain, they relate to all the process that input into the creation/provision of goods and services by the organisations.  

University Council   

A body created in 1856 as successor to the Caput (a body first mentioned in 1526 and originally elected ad hoc, but from 1570 until 1856 annually, to oversee all Graces prior to their presentation to the Regent House) charged with preparing business for the Regent House and with limited executive powers. 

Value chain emissions

The emissions that occur either upstream (i.e. in the supply chain) or downstream (i.e. during product use and disposal) of the organisation itself. These are also called Scope 3 emissions. 


Causing or resulting in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


Some definitions are adapted from: Carbon Glossary | Normative