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from Bernd Eberle
24.05.2024

Glossary: the 12 most important sustainability terms

Sustainability is a big issue. If you don’t just want to scratch the surface, you have to go a little deeper. Especially those who are involved in sustainable corporate strategies. Our short glossary provides handy background information:

  1. Sustainability: Originally a principle from the forestry industry that no more wood should be felled than can grow back, today more generally: the preservation of the natural regenerative capacity of all systems involved.
  2. 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals): 17 goals set by the United Nations (UN) to ensure sustainable development on an ecological, economic and social level by 2030.
  3. 1.5 degree target: Target set following the Kyoto Protocol to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. 2015 in the Paris Agreement signed by most countries in the world.
  4. CO2 compensation: Offsetting CO2 emissions by saving them elsewhere and storing CO2 in carbon sinks.
    CO2-neutral: emissions are offset down to zero level.
    CO2-positive: CO2 is bound even beyond this.
  5. GHG Protocol: Transnational standard for the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. GRI standard DNK (German Sustainability Code): Standard developed by the Global Reporting Initiative for the preparation of sustainability reports for companies, NGOs and governments. The DNK is the somewhat more compact German version.
  7. Purpose: A buzzword for the higher purpose of a company, i.e. philosophical and moral goals that go beyond mere economic profit.
  8. True cost: The real price of a product after the costs of health and environmental damage have been added to the retail price. Example: An organic apple may be more expensive in the store than a conventional one, but it costs society less overall due to soil conservation.
  9. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility): Corporate responsibility towards society to contribute to sustainable development by making voluntary contributions over and above the legal requirements.
  10. What does CO2 equivalent mean? In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2 ), other gases are responsible for the greenhouse gas effect, above all methane (CH4 ) and nitrous oxide (N2O). They have a significantly more harmful greenhouse gas potential than CO2. The same amount has a much stronger effect. In order to compare the effectiveness of the greenhouse gases with each other, they are converted to CO2 – we then speak of CO2 equivalents (eq = equivalent). A return flight to the Caribbean, for example, produces around five tons of CO2 eq – about the same amount as the average person produces in a year.
  11. Compensation and emission certificates: For the climate, it is not decisive where greenhouse gases are emitted or avoided. This means that emissions can also be saved at distant locations. Offsetting takes place via emission certificates, which are used to offset the same amount of emissions in climate protection projects. Ideally, these are certified by the UN and are decommissioned after purchase, i.e. they cannot be used again for further offsetting.
  12. “Bread for animals”: In Germany, around 1/3 of all bread and baked goods are thrown away every year. That is 1.7 million tons. This requires 400,000. hectares of cultivated land, which is more than the area of Mallorca. This also generates 2.46 million tons of Co21.
    You can see our example of why sustainability is nothing new in the cover picture. Some are committed to sustainability and some, like the Darms family from Falera, are simply sustainable by nature.

1 WWF study 2018


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