Discussions on climate involve a number of difficult issues and at a more basic level, even the language used and concepts can be difficult to understand. Often quite separate concepts are confused and discussed as if they are interchangeable. To help you to understand and perhaps get involved in the climate discussion we have answered some of the key questions below.

  • What is Net Zero? | Net zero is a balancing point where the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere equals the amount being removed from the atmosphere. It is not about tackling historic emissions.
  • What does carbon neutral mean? | Similar to the concept of net zero but focusing solely on carbon emissions – it is the balancing point where carbon emissions equal the amount being removed from the atmosphere.
  • What is decarbonisation? | The process of removing carbon emissions from our activities.
  • What are the greenhouse gases? | The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, petroflourocarbons and sulphur hexaflouride. Carbon dioxide is viewed as being the most dangerous of these gases and makes up the bulk of greenhouse gases emitted. This is why carbon has been such a focus when discussing climate.
  • Where do greenhouse gases come from?| Sources include burning fossil fuels (primarily for power), transport, heating, industrial processes, waste management and agriculture.
  • What is absolute zero (in climate terms)? | In climate terms this means stopping all emissions.
  • How can emissions be removed?| Methods centre primarily on capturing carbon during industrial processes before release; natural carbon capture such as planting more trees; restoring peatland; and employing technological solutions to remove carbon from processes or the air.
  • What is offsetting?| Offsetting is funding or investing in a project or scheme to compensate for emissions by funding an equivalent saving in emissions elsewhere. These schemes typically involve new schemes or projects such as planting forestry or peatland restoration but there are a myriad of variations on that and these projects can also extend to technology driven solutions to capture and destroy gases or to reuse them or projects to reduce emissions in developing countries.
  • Carbon Footprint | This is a measurement of the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, organisation, event or product.