Key Concepts

In the world of sustainability and climate change there are many concepts and topics. Some of them are well known from their appearance in the media and social networks, others are easily misunderstood or unknown to those who have little knowledge or experience in these areas.

It is very important for all of us to be aware of the issues affecting our world and to understand them as well as possible, so that we can speak properly and make our actions to combat the climate crisis as effective as possible.

For this reason, in this section we will try to explain, in a clear and detailed way, some key concepts and answers to frequently asked questions about these areas.

What is the Paris Agreement?

It is an international treaty adopted in 2015 at COP21 through which multilateral climate action will take place from 2020, calling on developed countries to take the lead on climate action and to provide technology and finance to developing countries.

Its objectives are:

a) Keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C and continue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C .

b) Increase capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change and promote climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emission development, without threatening food production;

c) Achieve financing flows consistent with low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development.

What do we mean when we talk about keeping the global temperature rise below 2ºC?

There is a big difference between temperature fluctuations between (and within) seasons (i.e. warmer one day and colder the next) and a general rise in temperatures. When we refer to "not reaching 2°C", or 1.5°C, what we mean is that we want to prevent the average global temperature from rising above 1.5°C or 2°C compared to pre-industrial times, i.e. compared to the world before the industrial revolution in the second half of the 18th century.

What is the Anthropocene?

Anthropos = human being. Ceno = in short, the geological term used to refer to the different epochs of the Earth.

The Anthropocene is the geological epoch in which we find ourselves today. Why does a geological epoch bear our name? Because humans are now considered an agent of geological change on a planetary level, capable, through their actions, of modifying the climate and ecosystems, thus significantly influencing the future of the Earth.

The Anthropocene is considered to have begun in 1950, when the so-called Great Acceleration began, characterised by an exponential increase in the consumption of resources by mankind.

Should I replace my fossil-fuelled car with an electric car?

Much of the emissions generated in the life of a car, from its manufacture to the end of its life, are concentrated in its manufacturing process. If you have a fossil-fuel car, consider that the pollution from making a new car is more than the pollution you can generate using the one you have now. If your old car has reached the end of its useful life (i.e. it no longer works), then consider buying an electric car.

About to electric cars, there are a couple of things to consider:

These cars have usually lithium batteries, which a very polluting manufacturing process. Currently, the manufacture of an electric car is even more polluting than the manufacture of a conventional car.

The electricity used to charge the car. If the the electricity is produced by the use of a fossil fuel (such as coal or oil) then every time you charge your car it will emit a certain amount of carbon emissions. Or perhaps the source of the electricity conflicts with your ideas - for example, most of France's electricity is produced in nuclear power stations.

So, before you buy an electric car because "it's more sustainable", you should think about the pros and cons, getting as much information as you can depending on where you are going to use the car and for what purpose.

The creators of this website always opt to avoid unnecessary purchases, to reuse products and to share. If you only need a car occasionally, you can try asking a family member or friend to lend you theirs, and the same for any other infrequent needs you may have.

Greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that is fundamental to life on Earth. Solar radiation that manages to pass through the atmosphere is absorbed by the Earth's surface and returns to the atmosphere in the form of heat. There, greenhouse gases (GHGs) retain part of this heat; the rest escapes into space.

Importantly, the higher the concentration of GHGs, the more heat is retained. Thus, the increase in emissions of these gases, especially CO2, since the industrial revolution has led to global warming, i.e. an increase in the average temperature of the planet's atmosphere and oceans.

This temperature increase is one of the most visible effects of climate change, which corresponds to a significant and long-term change in weather patterns due to an imbalance in the earth's climate system. Last report states that "It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes have occurred in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere.

Should I believe everything you tell me on this website?

NO, you should not blindly believe anything anyone tells you. Instead, look at different sources of information, contrast and compare these different pieces of information, be curious, ask yourself questions and ask others, don't settle for little. That is the way you will be closer to the truth.

Even though the authors of this website are students of sustainability and have the knowledge and experience of our teachers and other professionals, before that, we are human, susceptible to misunderstanding and misinterpreting facts.