103 Terms to become a climate expert

Adaptation: Actions taken to manage the impacts of climate change by reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience.

Afforestation: Planting trees on land that has not been forested for a long time, aimed at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Albedo Effect: The reflectivity of the Earth’s surface, where surfaces with high albedo (like ice) reflect more sunlight, impacting global temperatures.

Anthropogenic: Resulting from the influence of human activities on nature, especially regarding environmental changes.

BAU (Business As Usual): A scenario that assumes future development trends follow those of the past and present, without significant changes in policies or technological advancements.

B Corp (Benefit Corporation): A certification for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

Bias Correction: The statistical process used to make modelled climate trends more coherent with past observations.

Biochar: Charcoal produced from plant matter and stored in the soil as a means of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Carbon Budget: The allowable amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be emitted while keeping global temperature rise within a specific target.

CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage): A technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial sources to prevent them from entering the atmosphere.

Carbon Footprint: The total amount of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly by human activities, expressed as CO2

Carbon Neutral / Net Zero: Achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks.

Carbon Offset: A reduction in emissions of CO2 or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions produced elsewhere.

Carbon Sequestration: The process of capturing and storing atmospheric CO2 in a solid or liquid form to mitigate global warming.

Carbon Tax: A tax levied on the carbon content of fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism): An EU policy to tax carbon emissions of imported goods to prevent carbon leakage and encourage greener practices.

CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project): An organisation that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts.

Circular Economy: An economic system aimed at eliminating waste and continually using resources through reuse, repair, and recycling.

Climate: The long-term pattern of weather in a particular area, typically averaged over a period of 30 years.

Climate Change: Significant and lasting changes in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.

Climate Feedback: Processes that whereby climate change can either amplify or diminish the effects of climate forcings, such as melting ice reducing albedo and increasing warming.

Climate Justice: Addressing the ethical dimensions of climate change, ensuring that those most affected by climate change are treated fairly.

Climate Model: A complex computer simulation used to predict future climate changes based on different scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Refugee: People who are forced to leave their homes due to the adverse effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise or extreme weather.

Climate Risk: The potential for negative outcomes on assets, infrastructure, and human health due to climate change.

CMIP (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project): A standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.

CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): A major greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels and other processes, contributing significantly to climate change.

Community Resilience: The capacity of a community to adapt to and recover from climate change impacts while maintaining essential functions.

COP (Conference of the Parties): An annual meeting of the parties to the UNFCCC to negotiate and assess progress in dealing with climate change.

CSDDD (Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive): An EU directive focusing on companies’ responsibilities regarding human rights and environmental impacts within their operations and supply chains.

CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive): A proposed EU directive aimed at enhancing and standardising corporate sustainability reporting to ensure transparency and accountability.

Decarbonisation: The process of reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the use of low carbon power sources and technologies.

Deforestation: The clearing or thinning of forests by humans, often contributing to increased atmospheric CO2

Disaster: A sudden, catastrophic event caused by natural or human actions that significantly disrupts society, often exacerbated by climate change.

Drought: A prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to water shortages and negatively affecting the environment and agriculture.

Dunkelflaute: A period of time in which little or no energy can be generated with wind and solar power, because there is neither wind or sunlight.

Ecosystem: A community of living organisms interacting with their physical environment, which can be impacted by climate change.

Ecosystem Services: The benefits that humans receive from ecosystems, including clean water, air, and pollination, which can be affected by climate change.

Electric Vehicle: A vehicle powered by electricity, typically from batteries, as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

El Nino: A climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, affecting global weather patterns.


Energy Efficiency: Using less energy to provide the same service, thereby reducing energy waste and emissions.

Ensemble (model): A group of climate models run together to provide a range of possible future climate outcomes, increasing reliability of projections.

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance): Criteria used to evaluate a company’s operations and performance in terms of sustainability and ethical impact.

ETS (Emissions Trading System): A market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for reducing emissions of pollutants.

Extreme Weather Event: Severe or unseasonal weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and heatwaves, often linked to climate change.

FCA (Financial Conduct Authority): The UK regulator for financial markets and firms, ensuring they operate fairly and transparently. It also develops and enforces rules for sustainability reporting by companies to protect investors and consumers.

Feasibility: The practicality or possibility of implementing a particular strategy or solution to address climate change.

Flood: An overflow of water that submerges land which is usually dry, often intensified by other extreme weather events due to climate change.

Fossil Fuel: Natural fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed from the remains of ancient organisms, which release greenhouse gases when burned.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product): The total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year, often used to measure economic performance but not accounting for environmental costs. Used as a metric to describe socioeconomic change in SSPs.

Geoengineering: The deliberate large-scale manipulation of environmental processes to counteract climate change effects.

GHG (Greenhouse Gas): Gases in the atmosphere that trap heat, contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST): The average temperature of the Earth’s surface, used as an indicator of global climate change.

Global Surface Air Temperature (GSAT): The average temperature of the air at the Earth’s surface, used to monitor climate change.

Governance: The structures, policies, and practices used to manage and oversee organisations, including those related to climate action and sustainability.

Green Economy: An economy aimed at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, promoting sustainable development without degrading the environment.

Greenwashing: Misleading claims by organisations about the environmental benefits of their products, practices, or policies.

Hadley Centre: a leading UK-based climate research centre focused on climate modelling, observational analysis, policy support, and public engagement to advance the understanding and mitigation of climate change.

Hazard: A potential source of harm or adverse effect on something or someone, including natural hazards exacerbated by climate change.

Heatwave: A prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, posing health risks.


HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning): Systems used to regulate indoor environmental comfort, with considerations for energy efficiency in mitigating climate change.

IAM (Integrated Assessment Model): A type of model that combines knowledge from multiple disciplines to evaluate climate policies and their impacts.

IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards): Standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board to provide a global framework for how public companies prepare and disclose their financial statements.

Impact Assessment: The process of identifying and evaluating the consequences of proposed actions or policies on the environment and society.

Intergenerational Equity: The principle of fairness in the distribution of resources and opportunities between current and future generations.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): A United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change, providing policymakers with regular scientific assessments.

ISSB (International Sustainability Standards Board): An organisation established to develop global standards for sustainability disclosures, helping companies report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts in a consistent and comparable way.

Just Transition: Ensuring fairness and equity in the shift to a low-carbon economy, protecting workers and communities affected by this transition.

LCA (Life Cycle Assessment): A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from cradle to grave.

Methane: A potent greenhouse gas with a higher warming potential than carbon dioxide, produced by natural processes and human activities.

Mitigation: Efforts to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases to limit the magnitude of future climate change.

Nature-based Solutions: Actions that protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, including climate change.

Ocean Acidification: The ongoing decrease in pH of the Earth’s oceans caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Paris Agreement: An international treaty adopted in 2015 under the UNFCCC to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Pathways: Plausible trajectories of socio-economic development and associated emissions, used to explore future climate change scenarios.

Permafrost: Ground that remains completely frozen for at least two consecutive years, which can release greenhouse gases when thawed.

Physical Risk: Risks arising from physical impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and long-term shifts in climate patterns.

Pollution: The presence of harmful substances in the environment as a result of human activities, which can contribute to climate change.

Pre-industrial: Referring to the period before the widespread use of fossil fuels and industrialisation, used as a baseline for measuring global warming.

RCP (Representative Concentration Pathways): Greenhouse gas concentration trajectories adopted by the IPCC for its climate projections.


Resilience: The ability of systems, communities, and individuals to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adverse effects of climate change.

Renewable Energy: Energy from natural sources that are constantly replenished, such as wind, solar, and hydro power.

RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates): Certificates that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.

Risk: The potential for loss or damage when a vulnerability is exposed to a hazard, often assessed in the context of climate change impacts.

Risk Assessment: The process of identifying, evaluating, and estimating the levels of risk involved in a situation to make informed decisions.

SBTI (Science Based Targets Initiative): A collaboration that helps companies set emission reduction targets in line with climate science.

SCC (Social Cost of Carbon): An estimate of the economic costs associated with a metric ton of CO2 emissions in terms of the damage they will cause over time.

Scenario: A coherent, internally consistent description of a possible future state of the world used to inform climate change planning and risk management.

SDG (Sustainable Development Goals): A collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly intended to be achieved by 2030, addressing various global challenges including those related to climate change.

SDR (Sustainability Disclosure Requirements): A set of regulations in the UK that require companies to report detailed information about their sustainability practices and impacts, aiming to improve transparency and guide green investment decisions.

Sea Level Rise: The increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to climate change, primarily caused by the melting of ice and thermal expansion of seawater.

SSP (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways): Scenarios of projected socioeconomic global changes up to 2100 used to inform climate change research.

Smart Grid: An electricity network that uses digital technology to monitor and manage the transport of electricity from all sources to meet the varying electricity demands of end-users.

Surface Temperature: The temperature at the Earth’s surface, used as a key indicator of climate change. Usually taken as an average over a time and area.

Sustainability: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, encompassing environmental, social, and economic dimensions.

Sustainable Agriculture: Farming practices that meet current food needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, while also preserving the environment.

TCFD (Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures): An organisation that develops voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for companies to provide information to investors, lenders, and insurers.

TNFD (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures): A framework for organisations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks and opportunities.

Tipping Point: A critical threshold where small changes can lead to significant and irreversible effects on the climate system.

TPT (Transition Plan Taskforce): A UK-based initiative that provides guidance for businesses on developing effective transition plans towards a low-carbon economy.




Transitional Risk: Risks associated with the transition to a lower-carbon economy, including policy changes, technological advancements, and market shifts.

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change): An international environmental treaty to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Water Stress: The condition where water demand exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use.