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The practice of planting trees on lands historically not designated as forests, offering a strategic method to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide; thereby contributing to climate mitigation efforts.

Power that comes from sources other than fossil fuels, which means it’s much better for the planet because it pumps out way fewer greenhouse gases, like CO2. It’s a fresh take on energy—stepping away from the coal, oil, and natural gas that have powered us since the Industrial Revolution.

For-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab for meeting rigorous social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency standards.

Short for biological diversity, it refers to the rich variety of life on our planet. From different species to unique genes and the ecosystems they live in, it’s the mix of life forms and the natural processes they’re part of that keep our world thriving.

Carbon that’s captured and recycled by living things like trees, plants, and soil. Unlike fossil fuels, this kind of carbon plays nice with nature’s cycles; meaning it doesn’t toss extra carbon into the atmosphere. It’s a natural give-and-take that keeps the balance.

Renewable liquids made from organic materials like plants, algae, and animal waste. They serve as a greener substitute for fossil fuels; powering our vehicles, heating our homes, and generating electricity with fewer environmental impacts.

Plastics made from natural sources like sugarcane, corn, or even tiny organisms like yeast. Unlike traditional plastics that rely on oil, these can break down naturally thanks to biological processes; offering a greener—often biodegradable option that’s easier on our planet.

Used to describe a material that can decompose into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass through the action of naturally occurring microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi); reducing the buildup of waste and pollution.

An approach that involves taking cues from nature’s own designs and processes to craft products or solutions that are both innovative and sustainable; mimicking the clever ways biology tackles challenges to benefit our environment and society.

This idea treats the oceans as major players in the global economy—highlighting their role in supporting environmental sustainability, fostering economic growth, and promoting social inclusion through the wealth of marine resources and activities they offer.

Also known as carbon offsets, carbon credits are permits that allow the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gasses. Companies receive a set number of credits which decline over time. These credits create a financial incentive for businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, with private companies doubly incentivized, since they must spend on extra credits if their emissions exceed the limit.

Carbon footprint refers to the combined amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of products a person or organization buys and uses, their activities, and their overall lifestyles. A digital carbon footprint refers specifically to the production, use, and data transfer of digital devices; which also cause significant CO2 emissions.

Achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing it from the atmosphere in carbon sinks; effectively reducing a person, company, or country’s carbon footprint to zero.

A set of credits purchased from projects that are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By purchasing these credits, a person or company can fund projects that fight climate change, versus taking actions to lower their own carbon emissions. The certificates “offset” the buyer’s CO2 emissions with an equal amount of CO2 reduction elsewhere.

The process of grabbing CO2 from the atmosphere and tucking it away in places called carbon sinks (e.g., forests, oceans, or even underground). There are two main types: biological, where CO2 gets absorbed by plants and becomes part of the natural carbon cycle; and geologic, where CO2 is injected deep underground into rock formations and turns into stable minerals over time.

Reservoirs—which can be natural or manmade—that absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release.

A regenerative economic model designed to minimize waste and make the most of resources. It’s about shifting gears so that everything we use—from products to their parts and materials—is valued and kept in use for as long as possible. It means we rely less on new raw materials and make our production processes a lot more efficient, helping to cut down on greenhouse gases.

Technology that helps reduce environmental damage from existing technologies or improve the environmental quality of polluted natural resources.

Efforts to prepare for and adjust to both current and projected impacts of climate change.

Long-term and significant alteration in global or regional climate patterns (e.g., warmer, wetter, or drier), often attributed to human activity. This includes the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, which lead to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Actions to slow down global warming, primarily through reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing carbon sinks. It involves strategies like switching to renewable energy, planting more trees, and improving energy efficiency.

The capacity of a system to function in the face of stresses imposed by climate change; and to adapt, reorganize, and evolve that system to be better prepared for future climate impacts.

Efforts aimed at restoring atmospheric CO2 to levels safe for human survival and ecological balance.

The potential for climate change to create negative outcomes (e.g., sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and changes in precipitation patterns) for human or ecological systems.

A tool to understand the measure of a company’s vulnerability to climate-related impacts, focusing on potential financial implications and strategies for adaptation. Vulnerability is the degree to which an asset, person, company, or population group is susceptible to climate hazards.

An action plan that clearly outlines how a company will transform existing assets, operations, and business models to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050. These plans put climate change at the center of a company’s strategy and operations.

Describes materials that can naturally decompose into harmless substances like carbon dioxide, water, and biomass in a composting environment; enriching the soil without leaving any toxic residues. To be labeled compostable, these products need to pass rigorous tests; proving they can break down fully in industrial compost facilities within 90 days.

A philosophy that businesses should operate ethically while they pursue profits—meaning they should consider serving all stakeholders involved including their employees, humanity, and the planet.

A global pact made in 1992, where 150 world leaders agreed to work together for sustainable development. This involves protecting all forms of life on Earth, using natural resources wisely, and making sure the benefits from genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably.

A corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for its effects on environmental and social wellbeing.

The practice of weaving environmental, social, and economic factors into the fabric of business strategies and daily operations. It’s geared towards building lasting value and addressing the risks tied to sustainability challenges head-on.

The removal of forests leading to the loss of biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions. As trees take in carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis, carbon is chemically locked into their wood. When those trees are burned or otherwise destroyed, the carbon returns to the atmosphere as CO2. This disrupts the carbon absorption capacity of forests, exacerbating climate change.

When once-fertile land turns into desert, mainly in places that aren’t very wet to begin with. It can happen for a bunch of reasons; like cutting down too many trees, long dry spells, or farming the land in ways that hurt it. This process isn’t just about losing plants; it’s also about the area becoming less useful for growing food or supporting life, hitting both nature and people’s livelihoods hard.

A future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. This is achieved through a combination of emission reductions and carbon sequestration efforts.

Emissions trading programs work by setting a national or regional limit on the overall amount of pollution that a person or company is allowed to emit into the environment. This limit is typically set at a lower metric than pollution levels at the start of the program, and is intended to: protect public health and the environment; sustain that protection into the future regardless of growth in pollution sources.

Refers to products, buildings, and processes that use less energy to perform their function, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Also known as eco-friendly; refers to actions, products, or policies that cause minimal harm to the environment or aim to preserve natural resources and reduce pollution and waste.

A framework that helps an organization achieve its environmental goals through consistent review, evaluation, and improvement of its environmental performance. An EMS helps companies address both regulatory requirements and non-regulated issues and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship.

Intended to offer a clear roadmap toward a sustainable future by improving company ESG (Environmental, social & governance) performance and reporting. They are a set of guidelines, standards, and principles that collectively define a company’s ESG commitments and include several performance measurements; such as board diversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and DE&I (Diversity, equity and inclusion).

A numerical rating that assesses how well a company handles environmental, social, and governance challenges—like adapting to climate change, boosting energy efficiency, and ensuring employee well-being. It signals to investors and stakeholders the company’s potential risks and opportunities in these critical areas.

Electronic items that have been thrown away, are ready to be recycled, or can be refurbished. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste includes a wide range of products: from big and small home appliances to IT gear, consumer electronics, lighting, toys, tools, medical devices, and even things like smoke detectors and vending machines.

A global social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries reduce poverty, ensure the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promote environmentally sustainable practices.

Non-renewable energy sources (e.g., coal, oil, and gas) made from ancient plants and animals that got buried under the earth’s surface millions of years ago. When burned, they release energy used for everything from heating our homes and powering vehicles to running factories. But they’re also a major source of the carbon emissions driving climate change, responsible for about 75% of human-caused emissions over the last 20 years.

The natural warming of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere—caused by the presence of greenhouse gases—which trap heat from the sun. It makes life on Earth possible but also contributes to global warming when concentrations become too high.

Greenhouse gases act like a thermal blanket for Earth, letting sunlight in but keeping some of the heat from escaping back into space; similar to how a greenhouse works. Their impact on global warming is based on their concentration in the atmosphere, how long they stick around, and their heat-trapping efficiency; known as global warming potential (GWP).

A comprehensive global standardized framework to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains, and mitigation actions.

The additional cost of choosing clean technologies over those that emit more greenhouse gasses.

Making false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product or practice.

The total amount of water on a planet; including water on the surface of the planet, underground, and in the air. A planet’s hydrosphere can be liquid, vapor, or ice.

An investment strategy that aims to generate specific beneficial social or environmental effects alongside financial gains.

Describes emissions that are a consequence of a company’s activities but occur from sources not owned or controlled by it. These are often associated with the company’s supply chain; including procurement, transportation, and product use by consumers.

The United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC provides regular assessments of current knowledge about the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

A site designed to store household trash, sometimes with systems to minimize soil and water pollution. The oldest waste management method, landfills significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

A method for the environmental assessment of products and services—covering their life cycle from raw material extraction to through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling.

A formal way to evaluate company/stakeholder commitment to specific ESG efforts and calculate ESG scores by identifying the impact of these efforts on a company’s financial performance and market edge.

Tiny plastic particles in the environment that result from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste. Microplastics are harmful to marine and aquatic life and are found in increasing quantities in the oceans and food chains.

Earth’s wealth of natural resources (e.g., rocks, soil, air, water, and all forms of life). These assets provide essential ecosystem services that support human survival and quality of life, from clean air to drinkable water.

Also known as fossil gas, it’s formed from the remains of ancient plant material and marine organisms deposited in an oxygen-poor environment and cooked over millions of years by heat from the Earth. This fossil fuel is used as a source of energy for heating, cooking, and electricity generation and is considered cleaner than coal and oil; but still contributes significantly to carbon emissions.

Describes the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) that is produced and the amount that gets released into the atmosphere. A company or action can be described as net zero when the emissions produced are equal to the emissions removed.

Carbon that has not been absorbed by living matter. Most commonly used to describe carbon stored in fossil fuels, which have accrued their high carbon content over millions of years and because of extreme atmospheric pressures.

A label for food or other agricultural products that have been grown and processed according to federal guidelines and address, among many factors; soil quality, animal-raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives.

A legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in 2015. Its overarching goal is to keep the planet’s temperature from rising more than 2°C above what it was before we started heavily industrializing, with a stronger push to keep it under 1.5°C. This treaty is not just a plan; it’s a call to action for countries to work towards a sustainable, low-carbon future.

An approach that recognizes the shared environmental responsibilities of everyone involved in the lifecycle of a product, from design to disposal. It calls on manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers to collectively minimize the product’s environmental impact through better design, durable construction, reuse, and recycling.

A product or material that can be collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established program to be used again—either as the same item or to make something new.

The process of planting  trees in areas that previously had tree cover and have been affected by natural disturbances  (e.g., wildfires, drought, and insect and disease infestations) or unnatural disturbances (e.g., logging, mining, agricultural clearing, and development).

Energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed, such as sunlight and wind.

An increase in the world’s ocean levels caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. The oceans then absorb the majority of this heat; and, as water becomes warmer, it expands.

Clear, company-specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that  align with the objectives set forth in the Paris Agreement (as amended, according to new and emerging climate science).

Formal categories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by a company, its suppliers, and customers. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 and 3 describe indirect emissions that are a consequence of company activity but occur from sources not owned or controlled by it.

A concept first introduced in the Harvard Business Review in 2011 that is based on the principle that the financial health of a company and the overall health of its surrounding communities are mutually dependent.

An economic model emphasizing the shared use of assets or services to enhance  efficiency, sustainability, and community engagement.

The networks and shared values or resources that enable individuals to work together to effectively achieve common goals.

The second major layer of the atmosphere, located above the troposphere and extending from about 6 to 31 miles above Earth.

The principle that everything we need for our survival and well-being depends—either directly or indirectly—on our natural environment. Sustainability is a commitment to living in a way that supports the well-being of current and future generations by preserving the environment and its resources.

A set of 17 goals formally adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. SDGs emphasize the interconnectedness of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Making buying decisions that not only meet the needs of stakeholders but also take care of our planet and society. It means thinking about the environment, ethical governance, and social benefits every time you choose suppliers or products, aiming to minimize environmental harm and boost social good.

A holistic, long-term approach that views problems and solutions as parts of an interconnected whole, emphasizing the relationships and interactions within systems.

Launched in 2015 by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland, the TCFD sets out guidelines to help companies openly report how climate change might affect their finances. The goal is to make these reports consistent across different sectors, improving clarity and making it easier to compare companies.

The ability to monitor the entire journey of products, components, and materials to ensure they align with sustainable practices; including respect for human rights, adherence to labor standards, and minimization of environmental harm.

An accounting framework that measures a company’s financial success together with its impact on the environment and society.

The creative process of repairing, refurbishing, or repurposing waste materials or unwanted products into new materials or products of higher quality or environmental value.

A step-by-step business model for transforming a product or service from idea to reality. Value streams identify where value is added throughout processes like design, production, and distribution.

The guarantee that a community has consistent access to enough clean water to keep people healthy, support jobs, protect natural habitats, and adapt to changes in the environment and economy.

The complete flow of waste from origin to disposal—encompassing collection, transport, treatment, and disposal or recycling processes.

Liquid waste that is generated by various sources (e.g.domestic residences, commercial properties, industries, and agricultural activities). It typically contains substances such as food particles, oils, chemicals, and human waste; and requires treatment before it can be safely returned to the environment or reused

A term for products, services, or processes that generate zero CO2 or greenhouse gases during production or operation.

A mindset dedicated to the production, use and disposal of goods in a way that’s mindful of the environment—emphasizing thoughtful design, reuse, and recycling. The goal is to keep resources moving in a cycle that reduces waste and environmental damage.

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