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We open the climate vocabulary in plain language.

Climate vocabulary take-over: terms related to carbon footprint calculating

May 19, 2022 | Anna Gaib |

The climate discourse is colored by the climate vocabulary, making it difficult to follow the conversation. What does carbon dioxide equivalent mean? How is a carbon handprint different from a carbon footprint? This blog series sheds unnecessary jargon around the most used climate terms and opens them in plain language. 

Following the climate discussion is becoming increasingly challenging due to new terms. In response, we wrote a two-part blog series, Climate Terms Take-Over, which deals with industry vocabulary. We focus on the climate vocabulary around carbon footprint calculating in the first part. The second part deals with terms related to emission reduction targets. After this series of blogs, you’re on the map of the essential vocabulary in the industry, and it will be easier to follow the conversation. Please read below the most critical industry terms related to emissions and what they mean.

The carbon footprint describes the climate load caused by a particular entity (for example, a product, service, company, city, or country). When determining the carbon footprint, the direct and indirect emissions of the calculated entity over its entire life cycle must be taken into account. The carbon footprint is expressed in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).

The carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure of the combined climate impact of different greenhouse gases. In addition to carbon dioxide, the climate is heated by, among other things, methane and nitrous oxide, which have a much more significant climate impact than carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) considers the climate impacts of different greenhouse gases and converts them into co-dimensions with carbon dioxide (CO2).

The emission factor describes how much emissions are generated in connection with a product or service production. The emission factor is used to relate the sum of emissions to, for example, the product's production volume or monetary value. Emission factors are used to calculate the carbon footprint. There are different types of emission factors, for example, emission factors during the entire life cycle or cradle-to-gate.

Emission intensity tells you how much emissions are generated compared to the company’s turnover, for example. Other benchmarks can be, for example, the company’s energy consumption or, in the case of cities, even the population.

The carbon handprint describes the positive climate impact of a product or service compared to a traditional product or service. A positive carbon handprint can be generated if your business produces services or products with a lower carbon footprint than conventional solutions. Reducing our own emissions will not increase our carbon handprint, but by offering low-emission products, the company will help its customers reduce their carbon footprint. SPINNOVA® fiber is an excellent example of a product with a positive carbon handprint.

Want to understand the industry discussion better?

 Check out our training and the next part of this blog series on climate goals in mid-May.

Do you want to hear more about our services?

Contact us via the form or directly to our expert, and we can figure out together which OpenCO2.net calculator would work best for your organization.

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Sari Siitonen

Founder and CEO

sari.siitonen(a)clonet.fi

+358 40 761 5221