Green digitalisation: Glossary
A lot of sustainability or digitalisation terms are used incorrectly or are confused in modern parlance, so it's important to take a closer look at them. We have listed the main terms here for you together with brief explanations. Our glossary provides you with an overview of the most relevant terms, from "2-degree target" to "blockchain".
2-degree target: The aim of the international climate policy is to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius by the year 2100 compared to the level before the beginning of industrialisation in order to avert the worst consequences of climate change. See also "Paris Agreement".
Carbon footprint: The carbon footprint indicates the total amount of carbon dioxide released by business or production processes of companies or other relevant actors (citizens, municipalities, institutions).
Carbon negative: Through targeted measures, carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere and stored for long periods of time. This means that more of the climate-damaging gas is bound from the atmosphere than is added to it; this is called "negative emission".
Carbon neutral: A state in which as much carbon dioxide is emitted as is bound. In the economic sector, the term means that an entrepreneurial activity or product has no effect on the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
Carbon compensation: Companies, institutions and individuals can offset their emissions by investing in what are known as "climate protection projects". Carbon is bound by targeted interventions such as reforestation or forest protection. These measures are usually adopted when greenhouse gas emissions cannot be avoided or reduced.
Decarbonisation: Reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of a company, industry or country through conversions and other changes to existing processes.
Emission-free: Even stricter than "Zero carbon dioxide", as it assumes that the emission of all greenhouse gases is completely eliminated (and not just compensated).
Greenwashing: Intentionally misleading and distorting representation that makes a project, service or organisation seem more environmentally friendly than it really is.
Circular economy: Economic system that strives for the optimum use of products and raw materials, and minimises and at best neutralises waste by never disposing of resources, but constantly recycling and reusing them.
Climate neutrality: Climate neutrality means not only net-zero emission of greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrogen oxides (so not only carbon dioxide), but also compensation for all the climate impacts of human activities.
Climate change: Changes in Earth's climate with effects such as rising temperatures and sea levels. Not to be confused with the term global warming, which exclusively concerns rising temperatures due to human activity.
Net zero: Net zero is the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases produced and those removed from the atmosphere. Not to be confused with "zero carbon dioxide".
Zero carbon dioxide: A state in which no carbon dioxide is emitted, either directly or indirectly. This is not achieved by offsetting, but by completely eliminating all carbon emissions. Not to be confused with "net zero".
Paris Agreement: International treaty with the aim of limiting the increase in average global warming compared to the pre-industrial age to below 2 (ideally 1.5) degrees. The agreement was signed in 2015 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. See also "2-degree target".
Renewable energies: Energy that is obtained from natural renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, water and geothermal energy.
Scope 1 emissions: Direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the issuer, such as emissions from company factories.
Scope 2 emissions: Indirect emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the issuer, such as emissions from the electricity consumption of a company's management.
Scope 3 emissions: Indirect emissions from sources that the issuer does not own or control, but which indirectly affects its supply chain. These include, for instance, emissions from employees who drive to work.
Sustainable Development Goals: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are political objectives of the United Nations that outline the economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development of global society until 2030.
Greenhouse gases: Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by reflecting heat radiation near the Earth's surface that would otherwise escape into space. These include carbon dioxide (also called CO2), which is probably the best-known greenhouse gas, as well as methane, nitrogen, and fluorinated gases.
Big data: A broad term that includes the study and systematic extraction of information from data sets that are too large or too complex to be analysed by manual or traditional methods of data processing.
Blockchain: A blockchain is a continuously expandable list of individual records that are connected to each other using encryption methods. These individual records are called "blocks", and typically include a cryptographically secure scatter value of the previous block, transaction data, and a timestamp. One typical application of the blockchain is the cryptocurrency "bitcoin". However, a blockchain can be used for various other applications that require a forgery-proof data exchange, such as contracts or the certification of goods.
Digital twin: A digital twin is a digital counterpart of a real-world object. It is more than just data. A digital twin consists of models of the represented object that enable exact simulations, the findings of which can be transferred to the object in the real world.
E-waste: E-waste, also known as "electronic waste", refers to electronic devices or their components that no longer fulfil their intended task or have been replaced by better equipment, and are therefore no longer used.
Green IT: Green IT refers to both the environmentally friendly and resource-saving design of applications and end devices in the field of information and communication technologies as well as to their use for environmentally friendly purposes.
Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things includes all objects equipped with sensors, processing functions, software and other technologies to connect them to other devices and networks via the Internet or local networks. It offers the opportunity to work more efficiently and save emissions.
Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that deals with the automation of intelligent behaviour and machine learning. An AI perceives its environment and takes the appropriate measures to achieve its goals.
Proof of stake: "Proof of stake" refers to a procedure by which a blockchain network reaches a consensus on which participant is allowed to generate the next block. This is achieved by using a weighted random selection, which allows a much lower energy consumption than the "Proof of work" method.
Proof of work: In the "Proof of work" procedure, a user or their computer is given a complex task to solve in order to prevent the excessive or illegal use of an application. In the context of blockchain technology, the process prevents counterfeiting or unauthorised modification of the blockchain. The process is considered to be highly energy-intensive.
Robotics: Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. It is dedicated to the design, construction, operation and use of robots.
Sensor technology: In technology, the term sensor technology includes the application of sensors for measuring and controlling changes in environmental, biological or technical systems.
Smart grid: The term smart grid describes an intelligent power grid or IT-based grid control with which power generation, consumption and the storage of energy can be analysed and optimised in real time.
Virtual reality: Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated, interactive simulated environment that is represented by 3D images and usually also sound. Virtual reality applications include video games, remote medical solutions or virtual meetings and long-distance training.
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