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Glossar

News from the world of sustainability reporting.

Learn more about the future of carbon accounting and sustainability reporting. From new laws to technological innovations - everything at a glance.

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Activity based carbon accounting

Activity based carbon accounting quantifies caused emissions by multiplying the physical unit of an activity with the corresponding emission factor (e.g. liters of fuel burned). It is the most accurate carbon accounting method, as real physical values are used.

Source:
GHG Protocol
CO₂-Equivalent (CO₂e)

A CO₂ equivalent (CO₂e) is a unit of measurement that indicates the global warming potential (“GWP”) of various greenhouse gases, expressed as the GWP of one unit of carbon dioxide. It is used as a common basis for calculating emissions of various greenhouse gases.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), also known as the CO₂ border adjustment mechanism, is an innovative measure taken by the EU as part of the European Green Deal. The CBAM aims to take CO₂ emissions from imported products into account by demanding that importers pay compensation for emissions generated in the manufacturing process. This is intended to protect the competitiveness of EU companies and strengthen global climate protection efforts by providing incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

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Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) serves as a central point of contact for organizations, cities and investors to make their environmental impact transparent. More than 9,600 companies worldwide report their emissions and environmental strategies to CDP through a precise evaluation system that ranges from A to D-. These assessments, which cover key areas such as climate change, water management and forest protection, are a key indicator of corporate environmental responsibility. They help investors and consumers make more sustainable decisions and thus contribute to more sustainable global development.

Source:
CDP
Carbon Leakage

Carbon leakage describes a scenario in which companies may relocate production to countries that have less stringent emissions regulations due to climate policy costs, which can potentially result in an increase in overall emissions. This issue is particularly relevant in energy-intensive sectors, where the risk of carbon leakage is more pronounced.

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Carbon accounting

Carbon accounting refers to the systematic measurement and monitoring of emissions of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases. It is used to prepare a CO₂ balance sheet that enables companies and other organizations to understand their impact on the climate. In contrast to sustainability accounting, carbon accounting only takes into account environmental effects, while sustainability accounting also takes social and government aspects into account.

Carbon compensation

Carbon compensation means offsetting emissions by reducing them elsewhere. Climate change mitigation projects, such as reforestation projects, generate a specific amount of CO₂ certificates based on the estimated amount of emissions reduced or saved as a result of this project. Other parties, such as governments or companies, can buy these CO₂ certificates to offset their emissions on the balance sheet. On an individual level, compensation can be made by agreeing to pay a certain amount in addition to a purchase, which is then used to finance such mitigation projects.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Carbon footprint calculator

A carbon footprint calculator is a tool for converting activity data into its carbon equivalent by multiplying the value by the corresponding emission factor. The result is an estimate of the carbon emissions caused by a specific activity.

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Climate risks

Climate risks arise from significant changes in the Earth's spheres and are a result of changes in the climate and environment caused by humans.

Source:
BMZ
Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF)

A corporate carbon footprint represents the emissions generated by all of the company's activities within the selected reporting period and operating limits. The resulting CO2 balance includes at least Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, preferably also Scope 3 emissions, as far as possible.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) describes the advanced efforts of companies to act sustainably beyond pure economic goals. This includes conscious consideration of their social, social and ecological role and the influence of their actions. The aim of CSR is to make a positive contribution to social development and actively reduce negative effects on the environment and society.

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Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD)

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is a groundbreaking European Union directive that aims to strengthen environmental and human rights protection both within the EU and globally. It requires companies to consider both existing and potential negative impacts on human rights and the environment. This includes responsibility for the company's own business activities, the activities of subsidiaries and in particular those of the supply chain. The CSDDD is a central part of the EU strategy for promoting sustainable business practices and ensuring responsible corporate governance in a global context.

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Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is an initiative of the European Commission that was introduced in April 2021 to standardize and expand sustainability reporting within the EU. It extends the requirements of the previous Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) to all large companies in the EU that exceed certain financial thresholds or employee numbers. The changes to the CSRD include more detailed reporting requirements, the introduction of binding EU standards for sustainability reports, digital accessibility of data and a mandatory review of reports. These measures aim to increase the transparency and credibility of sustainability information and thus promote a more sustainable economy in the EU.

Decarbonization

Decarbonization is the process of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO₂, and aims to make global economic and social systems climate-neutral by the middle of the century. Supported by the Paris Climate Agreement, states and companies worldwide are committed to urgent and long-term measures against climate change in order to achieve sustainable climate neutrality.

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Direct emissions

Direct greenhouse gas emissions, also known as “Scope 1 emissions,” refer to all emissions that come from sources that can be attributed directly to a company. Examples include emissions from the combustion of heating oil at a company's sites or the combustion of fuel for a company's vehicle fleet.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Downstream emissions

Downstream emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions that are recorded as part of Scope 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. They result from the use, disposal, or processing of a company's products and services after they leave the company's direct control.

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ESG Reporting

The disclosure of environmental, social and governance data, known as ESG reporting, aims to make a company's activities in these areas transparent. This not only increases clarity for investors, but also motivates other organizations to take similar measures.

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EU emissions trading system (EU ETS)

The Emissions Trading System (ETS) is a market-based tool for reducing greenhouse gases that allows emissions rights to be traded. In the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), companies from industry and aviation receive emission certificates that determine their permitted emissions. These certificates can be traded to create incentives for emissions reductions. If companies exceed their emission limits, they must pay fines or purchase additional certificates. The EU ETS plays a key role in the EU climate strategy and promotes investments in green technologies.

Source:
BMUV
EU taxonomy

The EU taxonomy, a core part of the European Green Deal, classifies sustainable activities to steer investments into green innovations. It supports the EU goals for climate neutrality by 2050 and the significant reduction of emissions by 2030 by providing guidelines for sustainable investments. Activities must contribute to one of six environmental goals without causing significant damage, in accordance with the “Do No Significant Harm” principle, and comply with social standards. The goals focus on climate protection, adaptation, water use, circular economy, prevention of pollution and biodiversity.

Emission factors

Emission factors are used to estimate the amount of CO₂ emitted by an activity. These values can be found in various databases provided by governments such as DBEIS, ProBAS and EPA or by private providers such as ecoinvent.

Source:
DBEIS
European Green Deal

The European Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives proposed by the European Commission in 2019. It supports the EU's transformation towards a green, fair and prosperous economy in a modern and competitive society. The overall goal of the European Green Deal is to achieve the EU's climate neutrality by 2050.

European Sustainability Reporting Directive (ESRS)

The European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) provide a standardized framework for companies to disclose environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects. Developed by the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), these 12 standards are mandatory for companies subject to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). They define the core information to be published about the sustainability-related effects, risks and opportunities of a company.

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Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an international organization that provides the world's most commonly used standard for sustainability reporting. The GRI was founded in 1997 with the aim of creating a mechanism for accountability for responsible environmental behavior by companies. In 2016, the GRI published its first global standards for sustainability reporting, which enable companies and other organizations to report on their impact on environmental, social, and government matters.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is the factor by which a greenhouse gas contributes to the greenhouse effect, measured as a unit of a specific greenhouse gas in relation to one unit of carbon dioxide (CO₂). Depending on their physical and chemical properties, the behavior of the various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere differs. The extent to which they contribute to global warming depends on their radiation efficiency (the ability to absorb energy) and how long they stay in the atmosphere. The GWP of CO2 is used as a reference value with unit 1 over a period of 100 years, with which the GWPs of other greenhouse gases can be compared. Methane (CH4), for example, has a GWP of 27-30 over 100 years. This is because CH4 stays in the atmosphere longer and also absorbs more energy than CO2.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol)

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is an internationally recognized framework for measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions. It was developed at the end of the 1990s by the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (BWCSD) out of the need for an international standard for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions in companies. The following two standards are relevant for corporate carbon accounting:

The Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard contains requirements and guidelines for preparing a greenhouse gas inventory for companies and other organizations.

The Corporate value chain standard concentrated Focus on Scope 3 emissions and helps companies record emissions from their entire value chain. It is the most commonly used global standard for corporate greenhouse gas accounting.

Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Greenhouse gases (“GHG”) are gases that store and emit radiant energy in the thermal infrared range, which leads to the “greenhouse effect” by heating up the atmosphere and thus contributing to global warming. The main greenhouse gases associated with man-made global warming are: carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N₂O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Source:
GHG Protocol
ISO 14064

ISO 14064 defines global standards for greenhouse gas reporting at company level. It consists of parts ISO 14064-1, -2 and -3, with ISO 14064-1 focusing specifically on the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

Source:
ISO 14064-1
Indirect emissions

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions occur as a result of a company's activities but from sources that are not owned or controlled by that company. Both “Scope 2" and “Scope 3" emissions relate to indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Scope 2 emissions include emissions from the generation of purchased energy (electricity, steam, heating, and cooling) that the reporting company consumes. Scope 3 emissions include all other indirect emissions that occur along a company's value chain.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international body of climate scientists who study the scientific, technical, and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the risks of human-caused climate change.

Source:
IPCC
Kyoto protocol

The Kyoto Protocol obliges industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. It was adopted in 1997 and sets a binding framework for global climate protection.

Life cycle analysis or assessment (LCA)

A life cycle analysis assesses the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle, including raw material extraction, production, use, and disposal.

Source:
WRI
Net-zero emissions

Net-zero emissions mean that emissions that enter the atmosphere are offset by opposing measures. The goal is an emissions balance of zero.

Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD)

The NFRD requires organizations to disclose non-financial information, such as environmental, social, and governance aspects. It aims to increase the transparency and quality of sustainability reporting.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement of 2015 obliges countries to limit global warming to below 2 °C. It is a key document in global climate protection.

Source:
UNFCCC
Product Carbon Footprint (PCF)

A PCF measures a product's greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. The focus is on specific greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to the general environmental balance.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

The SBTi helps companies set science-based emission reduction targets that are compatible with the Paris Agreement.

Scope 1-Emissions

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from processes that can be attributed to a company.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Scope 2-Emissions

Scope 2-Emissions are indirect emissions that result from the generation of purchased energy that a company uses.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Scope 3-Emissions

Scope 3-Emissions are all other indirect emissions along a company's value chain.

Source:
GHG Protocol
Spend-based carbon accounting

Spend-based carbon accounting uses the economic value of a good or service together with a corresponding emission factor (e.g. kg CO₂e per €) to calculate the emissions caused.

Source:
DFGE
Sustainability Report/ ESG Report

Corporate sustainability reporting refers to the disclosure of environmental, social, and governance performance. It is often required by law and aims to enable stakeholders to assess a company's non-financial performance.

Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR)

The SFDR aims to standardize and improve the disclosure of ESG aspects in the financial sector.

Source:
Eurosif
Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

The TCFD is improving the disclosure of climate-related financial information to help investors assess risks.

Source:
UNEP FI
Tipping Points

Tipping points are critical thresholds in the Earth system, the exceeding of which leads to serious and often irreversible environmental changes.

Upstream emissions

Upstream emissions are emissions caused by a company's supply chain, from procurement to use.

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