In 2019, Telford & Wrekin Council declared a climate emergency. It is now working, along with partners, to go carbon neutral by 2030 – and to reduce single-use plastic across the council by 2023!

Climate Change Terminology Glossary


BEIS is the Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Its aims are to build a stronger, greener future which includes tackling climate change.

It was created in July 2016 by replacing the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).


This is a term used to describe the variety among living organisms which can be from terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosytems, It can also refer to plants, animals, fungal, and microorganism communities.

Biodiversity contributes to human wellbeing. Similarly humans actions and behaviour can affect the biodiversity and therefore our own wellbeing.

Biomass energy

Cave dwellers would have used biomass energy by burning wood to make a fire.

These days, biomass power plants use organic matter like wood pellets, grass clippings, animal manure or crops to create heat, electricity and biofuels.

Some biomass plants can create both heat and electricity and are known as Combined Heat and Power plants.

Because plant matter can be re-grown, it is a renewable form of energy, although there is some debate about whether it is the ‘greenest’ form of energy.

Carbon budget

Carbon budgets are a simplified way of measuring the additional emissions that can enter the atmosphere, if the world wishes to limit global warming to levels such as 1.5C set at the Paris Agreement. The amount of warming that will occur can be approximated by total CO2 emissions.

The UK is the first country to set legally binding carbon budgets, placing a cap on the total amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a 5-year period.

The Carbon Budget Order 2011 set the carbon budget for the 2023–2027 budgetary period at 1,950 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Carbon emissions

When we refer to carbon emissions we’re really talking about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  CO2 releases into the atmosphere in many ways but nature keeps most of these emissions in balance. 

However, some of the activities we perform on Earth causes extra carbon and other greenhouse gases to be emitted into the atmosphere. Since the Industrial Revolution, levels have increased and are in excess of what nature needs and can cope with. This is when it becomes harmful to the atmosphere.

Carbon footprint

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impacts of an activity on global warming by calculating the greenhouse gas emissions of these activities, usually stated as a ‘CO2e’, or carbon dioxide equivalent.

This is done to show all key greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) expressed as a common unit, allowing easy comparison across organisations, industries and countries. 

Carbon literacy

This relates to the awareness of climate change and the impacts that human’s everyday actions can have on the Earth’s climate.

It is also about having the ability, knowledge and motivation to reduce carbon emissions, on an individual, community and organisational level.

Carbon neutral OR net zero carbon

Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in sinks.

In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon capture.

Carbon Capture/sequestration  

Carbon capture is the long-term removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming.

Planting trees is a good way to help capture carbon emissions as, through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and wood.

Clean growth

This refers to growing our national income while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Offshore wind is one example of this. The industry has brought billions of pounds worth of investment to the UK whilst significantly contributing to lower CO2 emissions.

Climate Change

Climate Change refers to a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures.

It specifically relates to man-made (anthropogenic) climate change that is believed to be causing an increase in global temperatures driven by emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, known as greenhouse gases.

Climate Emergency/ declaration

By declaring a climate emergency, a body is acknowledging that urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.

It also acknowledges their commitment to achieving the actions needed.

Climate Change Champion

Telford & Wrekin Council have advertised for local volunteers to help the Council in a variety of ways to engage Borough residents on Climate Change and Sustainability.

If you are interested or want to find out more, go to the Council’s SustainableTelford website

Energy efficiency 

Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to perform the same task – eliminating energy waste or only using as much energy as is needed.

Energy efficiency brings a variety of benefits: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand for energy imports, and lowering our costs on a household and economy-wide level.

EV or electric vehicle

An electric vehicle (EV) is one that operates on an electric motor, instead of an internal-combustion engine that generates power by burning a mix of fuel and gases.

They are seen as a possible replacement for the current-generation automobile, in order to address the issue of rising pollution, global warming, depleting natural resources, etc.

Fossil fuels

Coal, crude oil, and natural gas are all considered fossil fuels because they were formed from the fossilised, buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.

Burning fossil fuels to produce energy produces carbon dioxide. Globally, we have burned these in very large quantities, producing significant amounts of carbon dioxide. This has been the main driver in climate change.

Greenhouse gas (GHG)

Greenhouse gases constitute a group of gases which contribute to global warming and climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 by many parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to curb global warming, covers seven greenhouse gases:

  • the non-fluorinated gases:
    • carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • the fluorinated gases:
    • hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)

By converting these gases to carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents it is then possible to compare them and to determine their individual and total contributions to global warming.

Heat decarbonisation

Heating accounts for about 37% of total UK carbon emissions, including industrial processes. This can be broken down to;

  • space heating – 17%
  • hot water – 4%
  • cooking – 2%
  • industrial processes – 14% 

To meet the nations’ carbon neutral target, the majority of buildings and homes in the UK will need to implement low carbon heating solutions.

IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, its potential effects and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Natural Capital

Natural capital relates to the world’s resources of natural assets such as geology, soil, air, water and all living things.

From this natural capital, humans derive a wide range of ecosystem services which make human life possible.

The most obvious ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peatlands, or the pollination of crops by insects.


Is the participation in schemes or action taken which is designed to make reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity. The result is to balance out emissions.

Eg building a wind farm to replace coal-fired power plant.

If carbon reductions are equivalent to the total carbon footprint of an activity, then the activity is said to be carbon neutral.

The 'Paris Agreement’

The Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement, adopted at the Paris climate conference in December 2015.

197 countries reached an international agreement to address global warming. Governments that signed up committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least enough to limit average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, whilst agreeing to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

The Agreement places a heavy emphasis on the need to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources.

Under the Paris agreement, each country volunteers to:

  • set its own goal for reducing GHG emissions;
  • detail how it will reach its goal; and

monitor and report on progress


Buildings constructed to Passivhaus standards achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements, compared to standard UK new build. The Passivhaus standard therefore supports the building industry to achieve the 80% carbon reductions target set by the UK government. Passivhaus can also be applied to retrofit projects.

The Passivhaus Standard in the UK typically involves;

  • accurate design modelling using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP)
  • very high levels of insulation
  • extremely high performance windows with insulated frames
  • airtight building fabric
  • thermal ‘bridge free’ construction
  • a mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery

Plastic Free

This refers to removing and reducing plastic waste, through producing products without plastic and reducing plastic consumption. 

This can be done through using reusable alternative products, specifically to eliminate single-use plastic. 

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished. This includes carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, hydro/water and geothermal heat. Another renewable energy resource is biomass

In the third quarter of 2019, the UK’s windfarms, solar panels, biomass and hydro plants generated more electricity than the combined output from power stations fired by coal, oil and gas.


Means to make an improvement to something that already exists by making an addition or modification.

A green retrofit is any refurbishment of an existing building that aims to reduce the carbon emissions and environmental impact of the building.

Tipping Point

The IPCC defines a tipping point as an irreversible change in the climate system.

These “tipping points” are thresholds where a tiny change could cause fundamental parts of the Earth’s system to change dramatically and irreversibly.

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