Make It Clear - Message to Go Green; Comment

Article excerpt

WELCOME to our comment column, in which leading figures from the region present a thought-provoking view on an issue affecting their company or organisation or the wider community. Today it's the turn of Annie Zijlstra, principal communications officer with the Environment Agency.

THE environment has risen to the top of everyone's agenda, which is great news for those of us working in that sector.

But as more businesses fight for a bit of the 'green pie' how do we ensure that the right messages are getting across and we're not confusing the public with a plethora of eco-related terms they don't understand?

'Green' is now used as a catch-all description for everything associated with the environment. But when tackling the core issues, we need to use the other labels accurately and in a manner that is easily understood so they maintain their relevance for us all.

Here I have attempted to demystify some of the most frequently used phrases with a brief explanation of their use and meaning.

Carbon footprinting focuses solely on carbon dioxide emissions, enabling the measurement and interpretation of climate change. So the method can be used to assess the impact of all of a company's carbon emissions or just certain aspects.

Carbon neutral: to achieve carbon neutrality an organisation tries to balance the carbon dioxide they produce with the same intake of energy from renewable sources, in theory cancelling each other out. However claiming to be fully carbon neutral could be very difficult as an organisation could just be counting their business processes rather than other activities such as staff travel.

Carbon off-setting is having your carbon dioxide emissions offset through schemes like tree planting. But by simply paying into a scheme a company may not be addressing the issue of reducing its carbon emissions. It is hoped that where offsetting is seen as a solution it is used hand-in-hand with other more immediate and active measures to reduce emissions.

Climate change describes the variation in the Earth's climate over time-scales ranging from decades to millions of years. …