Towards responsible events: feciphering the low carbon glossary

An open dictionnary
  • February 13, 2024

Glossary of low carbon event management

Are you familiar with the vocabulary of low carbon event management? If you're just starting to explore this topic, it's normal for some terms to be unfamiliar or seem a bit obscure. Don't worry, we're here to help!

Here's a guide to help you better understand the terms related to low carbon event management. Feel free to save it for future reference.

Focus on the Glossary of Low Carbon Event Management

More and more sectors are focusing on calculating and budgeting their greenhouse gas emissions. Specific standards and best practices are being introduced to mobilize as many stakeholders as possible in climate transition.

The scope of an event's carbon footprint was formally defined for the first time by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in the context of their carbon neutrality standard. Although the basics of an event's carbon footprint scope have not changed significantly, other standards and methods (Carbon Footprint, GHG Protocol) have strengthened and supported event carbon accounting since.

At Climeet, we have developed a greenhouse gas management tool that allows us to measure and manage all emissions related to event organization. As a partner in your low carbon strategy, Climeet helps you understand your footprint and prioritize actions on your different emission sources to establish a concrete, measurable, and realistic reduction plan to design ever more eco-responsible events. We use specific terminology, which we detail below.


Terms in the Low Carbon Event Management Universe

General definitions of low-carbon

Greenhouse Gas (GHG): Natural (water vapor) or anthropogenic (related to human activities) gases that absorb and re-emit some of the sun's rays (infrared radiation), phenomena responsible for the greenhouse effect. There are several types, including Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), or fluorinated gases (PFCs, HFCs, SF6, and NF3). For the sake of standardization, these different GHGs are grouped under the CO2 equivalent measurement.

GHG Source: A physical unit or process emitting a GHG into the atmosphere.

Emission Sources: GHG emissions from homogeneous sources or types of sources. An emission source can be likened to a "sub-category of emission."

Direct GHG Emissions: Emissions from fixed and mobile GHG sources controlled by a legal entity/organization.

Indirect GHG Emissions: GHG emissions resulting from the activities of a legal entity/organization but coming from GHG sources controlled by other entities.

Carbon Sink: Processes removing a GHG from the atmosphere. The main carbon sinks are oceans, forests, or certain soils such as peatlands and marshes.

EF (Emission Factor): A coefficient used to convert data on an organization's or event's activities into corresponding greenhouse gas emissions.

Activity Data: Quantitative measurement of a given activity that results in GHG emissions.

CO2 Equivalent (CO2e): Carbon dioxide equivalent, a conversion unit for comparing the warming effect of several greenhouse gases.

Operational Boundary: All emission sources considered in a carbon accounting exercise for an organization.

Organizational Boundary: All sites, installations, and competencies considered in a carbon accounting exercise for an organization.

Conservative Assumption: In the context of a GHG inventory, an assumption that overestimates the potential impacts of an activity by considering the worst-case scenario. The goal is not to underestimate an impact due to lack of knowledge.

Fossil Fuels: Fossil fuels are all carbon-rich fuels formed from the decomposition of dead organisms buried in the ground for millions of years. These include coal, oil, fossil gas, and lignite.

Pre-Industrial Period: The period before the widespread use of fossil fuels, up to the early 19th century.

Global Warming Potential: An indicator aimed at grouping under a single value the combined effect of all substances contributing to the increase in the greenhouse effect.

Renewable Energy: Energy derived from natural processes in perpetual renewal, as opposed to non-renewable energies (gas, coal, oil) whose stocks are depleting. The five sources of renewable energy are:

  • Solar energy (sunlight);
  • Wind energy (wind power);
  • Hydropower (water power);
  • Biomass energy (use of organic matter);
  • Geothermal energy (heat from the earth);

Carbon Contribution: Contributing to global carbon neutrality, beyond legal obligations, involves participating in the development of projects that promote the reduction or sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions, up to the level of one's own residual carbon footprint. For carbon contribution to make sense, it is only considered if the company is first committed to minimizing its footprint.

Carbon Neutrality: Carbon neutrality is the balance between GHG emissions and their absorption by carbon sinks (soils, oceans, forests...) that store carbon outside the atmosphere. From a scientific point of view, the concept of carbon neutrality only makes sense if applied on a global scale, or even on a territory scale such as France. Therefore, be careful not to communicate about your event being "carbon neutral"!

Low Carbon Event: An event whose greenhouse gas emissions have been minimized as much as possible. This includes, for example, the use of sustainable transportation (see below), the reuse of the majority of equipment, local sourcing of suppliers, etc.



Practices, standards, initiatives and organizations

Key sustainability organizations

ADEME : French Environment and Energy Management Agency.  The ADEME initiates, coordinates, facilitates, or carries out operations for environmental protection and energy management.

ABC : The Association for Low Carbon Transition, created in 2011 by ADEME and APCC (Association of Professionals in Climate Energy and Environment Consulting), aims to promote and disseminate the Carbon Footprint methodology. It provides organizations and citizens with tools and methods to succeed in defining and implementing their decarbonization strategy.

Methodologies, standards and frameworks

Paris Agreement: International treaty on climate change whose objective is to maintain the increase in the average temperature of the planet well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, and preferably to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

PAS 2060: The PAS 2060 standard was published by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in 2010, then revised in 2014. Its objective is to encourage organizations to demonstrate their efforts towards carbon neutrality and to establish transparency between companies and their customers to avoid allegations such as greenwashing.

GHG Protocol: The GHG Protocol is an international protocol offering a framework for measuring, accounting, and managing greenhouse gas emissions from the activities of the private and public sectors developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute.

National Low Carbon Strategy: France's roadmap for combating climate change. It defines a trajectory for reducing greenhouse gas emissions until 2050 and sets short- to medium-term objectives: carbon budgets. It has two ambitions: to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reduce the carbon footprint of French citizens.

BEGES: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. It is a regulatory and mandatory process for companies with more than 500 employees and municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, among others.

ISO 20121: An internationally recognized, certifiable management standard dedicated to responsible management systems applied to events. Its objective is to promote sustainable development specific to the event industry.

Carbon Footprint®: The Carbon Footprint® is a standard of excellence in greenhouse gas accounting: its purpose is to provide a comprehensive picture of an organization's, event's, or project's greenhouse gas emissions. The Carbon Footprint® is also an environmental management tool, serving as a guide and support for organizations in their climate-energy transition initiatives.

Net Zero Initiative: The NZI standard is a project by Carbone 4 consulting firm (supported by ADEME, the Ministry of Ecological Transition, and twenty-one companies) allowing organizations to better structure their climate initiatives as part of their participation in the global carbon neutrality objective. To this end, a company must follow a three-fold approach to climate action in order of priority: 1) Reduction 2) Avoidance 3) Sequestration/Capture/Absorption. It is essential to understand that these three aspects must all be pursued simultaneously in this order of priority. They are not cumulative, and one cannot be added to or subtracted from the other.

Sustainable actions and practices

Soft Mobility: Soft mobility includes all travel without fossil fuels: walking, cycling, rollerblading, electric buses, etc.

Zero Waste: A approach aimed at minimizing our waste production. It's a set of practices that can be implemented to prevent and avoid the creation of waste (packaging, plastics, single-use products) and reduce waste (objects, resources, food). The rule of the 5Rs zero waste provides guidance on how to visibly reduce waste production: refuse, reduce, reuse, return to the earth, recycle.


And there you have it: you now know more about the vocabulary of low carbon event management! Have you come across a word that we haven't defined in this article, and you're unsure of its meaning? Don't hesitate to contact us so that we can enrich this glossary.

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