Introduction to the Sustainability Glossary: Key Concepts Simplified - Girteka - Responsible Logistics

Introduction to the Sustainability Glossary: Key Concepts Simplified


As the logistics and transportation sectors move towards sustainability, understanding the terminology involved is crucial. Our educational campaign, aims to demystify these terms and promote a deeper understanding of sustainable transport solutions. This glossary provides straightforward explanations of important concepts like BEV, CSRD, ETS, and many many more. It’s designed to aid everyone from industry insiders to the general public in comprehending and discussing the sustainable transformation of logistics.




Alternative Fuels: Energy sources other than traditional fossil fuels, including biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, and natural gas, used to power vehicles with reduced environmental impact.

Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID): An EU directive aimed at developing a Europe-wide network of fueling and charging stations for alternative fuels, facilitating the transition to more sustainable transportation modes. (

Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR): Replacing the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID), AFIR aims to accelerate the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, ensuring that the necessary charging and refuelling points are available to meet the rising demand for alternative fuel vehicles. (




Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV): A vehicle powered entirely by electric batteries and motors, emitting no greenhouse gases during operation.

Biofuels: Biofuels are fuels produced from biomass materials, such as plants, algae, or organic waste. They come in various forms, including ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas, and can be used as substitutes for conventional fossil fuels in vehicles, heating, and electricity generation. Biofuels are considered renewable and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions when produced and used sustainably. However, their environmental impact depends on various factors, including the source of the biomass, land use changes, and production processes.




Carbon Footprint: The total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event, or product, measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Carbon Neutral: A state achieved by an organization, service, or product when the carbon emissions it produces are balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.

Circular Economy: An economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources, contrasting with a traditional linear economy.

Clean Vehicles Directive: An EU directive promoting the procurement of low- and zero-emission vehicles, including requirements for public service contracts and transport operators. (

Climate Risk Reporting: The process by which companies identify, assess, and report on the risks that climate change poses to their business. This is crucial for transport and logistics companies, as it involves evaluating the potential impacts of climate-related regulations, changes in fuel prices, and shifts in market demand towards more sustainable options.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD): Expanding on the NFRD, the CSRD requires more detailed reporting and extends the requirements to all large companies and all companies listed on regulated markets (except listed micro-enterprises), affecting how transport and logistics companies report their ESG activities. (

Carbon Pricing: A method to incentivize the reduction of carbon emissions through the imposition of a cost on emitting carbon dioxide. It is a central tool in the EU’s policy to combat climate change and is primarily implemented through the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Charging Point Operator (CPO): Charging Point Operators (CPOs) are companies or entities that own, operate, or manage Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. CPOs are responsible for installing, maintaining, and ensuring the availability of charging infrastructure for EV users. They may offer various services, including payment processing, customer support, and access to charging networks. CPOs are key players in the expansion of EV charging infrastructure, facilitating the adoption of electric mobility.

Charging Station Owners (CSO): Charging Station Owners (CSOs) are individuals or entities that own the physical and operational assets of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Unlike Charging Point Operators (CPOs), who may manage or operate charging stations owned by others, CSOs have direct ownership and possibly also take on the roles of operation and maintenance. CSOs invest in charging infrastructure as part of their business model, real estate value enhancement, or to support environmental and sustainability goals. They may work in partnership with CPOs to provide the technology and network services needed for the charging stations to function efficiently and integrate with broader EV charging networks.

Connecting Europe Facility Program (CEF): The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument developed to promote growth, jobs, and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at the European level. It supports the development of high-performing, sustainable, and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy, and digital services. Within the transport sector, the CEF aims to improve cross-border connections, enhance sustainable transport systems, and facilitate the transition to innovative and clean technologies. This includes significant funding for projects that develop and expand Europe’s EV charging infrastructure, contributing to the EU’s goals for decarbonization and the promotion of electric mobility as part of the broader Green Deal initiatives. The CEF program is instrumental in ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place to support the EU’s ambitious environmental and digitalization targets, making it a cornerstone of Europe’s effort to achieve a sustainable and connected future. (,objectives%20for%202030%20and%202050.)




Decarbonization: The process of reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the use of low-carbon power sources, thereby minimizing the carbon footprint of transportation and logistics operations.

Digitalization: The use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.

Distribution System Operators (DSO): Distribution System Operators (DSOs) are entities responsible for operating, maintaining, and developing the distribution networks that deliver electricity from the high-voltage transmission grid to end consumers. DSOs ensure the reliability and efficiency of the electricity supply, manage local network congestion, and facilitate the integration of distributed energy resources, such as solar panels and electric vehicles, into the grid. They play a crucial role in the transition towards a more decentralized, digitalized, and decarbonized energy system.




Eco-driving: Driving practices that maximize vehicle fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and lower the environmental impact of road transport.

EV: Electric Vehicles (EVs) are vehicles powered entirely by electric motors, using energy stored in rechargeable batteries. The charging of these batteries can be done using either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

AC Charging: Involves using household or public charging points where the EV’s onboard charger converts the AC electricity from the grid into DC power for charging the battery. This method is more common for home and overnight charging due to its lower power capacity.

DC Charging: Involves using dedicated high-power charging stations that supply DC electricity directly to the EV’s battery, bypassing the vehicle’s onboard charger. This method allows for faster charging times and is typically used for rapid charging along highways or in commercial settings.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station: Infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids.

European Green Deal: An EU strategy aiming for a climate-neutral continent by 2050, focusing on biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, clean energy, and a circular economy, affecting all sectors including transportation and logistics. (

EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS): The world’s first major carbon market, it’s a cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. (

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance): refers to a set of criteria used to evaluate a company’s operations and business model in terms of their sustainability and ethical impact. These criteria help investors, customers, and regulatory bodies assess how a company is performing with respect to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and governance practices.

Environmental Criteria: Refers to how a company performs as a steward of nature. In transportation, this includes efforts to reduce emissions, enhance energy efficiency, switch to sustainable fuels, and minimize waste along the supply chain.

Social Criteria: Concerns how a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. In the context of transport and logistics, this could involve ensuring good working conditions, promoting safety and health, and supporting community initiatives.

Governance Criteria: Examines a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. For companies in the transportation sector, governance criteria assess the quality of management in executing strategies towards decarbonization and sustainability, including compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

EU Taxonomy Regulation: Part of the European Green Deal, the EU Taxonomy is a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. It helps companies, including those in transportation and logistics, to align their operations with EU sustainability goals, thereby influencing their ESG scores. (




Fleet Management System (FMS): A software application that enables the logistics company to monitor, manage, and optimize their vehicle fleet operations, incorporating sustainable practices.

Fit for 55 Package: Part of the European Green Deal, this package aims to revise and update EU legislation to ensure a reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. It includes proposals to revise the EU ETS, enhance energy efficiency, increase renewable energy use, and tighten CO2 standards for cars and vans. (

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles: Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are a type of electric vehicle that generates electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell, with water being the only direct emission. FCEVs offer the benefits of electric drive—such as high efficiency and zero tailpipe emissions—while providing longer ranges and quicker refuelling times compared to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). They represent a promising technology for decarbonizing transport, particularly for heavy-duty and long-distance applications.

Fast Charging: Fast Charging for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) enables rapid recharging of EV batteries using high-power stations, substantially reducing charging time compared to standard methods. Operating at 50 kW to 350 kW, fast chargers can significantly boost a battery’s capacity in minutes, making long-distance EV travel more viable and addressing range concerns. These stations directly supply DC power, bypassing the vehicle’s onboard converter. Compatibility varies with the vehicle’s charging system and connector type (e.g., CCS, CHAdeMO, Tesla Supercharger). While fast charging enhances the practicality of BEVs and supports the transition to sustainable transportation, considerations include infrastructure availability, charging costs, and potential impacts on battery longevity.




General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER): EU regulation that allows certain categories of state aid, which can include aid for environmental protection and aid for making road transport cleaner. (

Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework: A globally recognized methodology for calculating and reporting the carbon footprint of logistics operations across the entire supply chain. Developed by the Smart Freight Centre, the GLEC Framework integrates existing methods and applies them across all freight and logistics modes. It provides guidelines for companies to measure and reduce their emissions, encouraging industry-wide adoption of best practices for sustainability. This framework is instrumental for logistics companies aiming for decarbonization and looking to align their reporting with international standards and expectations from stakeholders, including customers and regulatory bodies. The GLEC Framework supports companies in making informed decisions to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, contributing to the global effort against climate change.

Green Logistics: The attempt by logistics companies to minimize their environmental impact through waste management, material handling, packaging, and transportation methods.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions: Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. The main GHGs related to transportation include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.

Green Bonds: Definition: Bonds specifically earmarked to be used for climate and environmental projects. These are tools that transport and logistics companies can use to finance projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions and enhancing sustainability in their operations. (




Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV): A vehicle powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors, which uses energy stored in batteries.

High-Power Charging: High-Power Charging (HPC) refers to electric vehicle charging systems that provide a very high rate of charge, capable of adding significant range to an electric vehicle (EV) in a short amount of time. HPC stations are typically rated above 100 kW and can go up to 350 kW or more, allowing for rapid charging of EV batteries. This technology is key to enhancing the practicality and appeal of EVs for consumers, reducing charging time, and facilitating long-distance travel.




Intermodal Transportation: The use of two or more modes of transport to move goods from the sender to the recipient, optimizing the logistics process to improve sustainability.




Low-emission Zones (LEZ): Areas where access is restricted or deterred for certain polluting vehicles to improve air quality. Many European cities have implemented LEZs as part of their efforts to reduce air pollution and protect public health.

Low-emissions Vehicles: Low-emissions Vehicles are vehicles designed to produce significantly lower levels of harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), compared to standard vehicles. This category includes a variety of technologies, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The adoption of low-emissions vehicles is a crucial component of efforts to reduce air pollution, combat climate change, and transition towards sustainable mobility.




Modal Shift: The process of moving transportation from high carbon to low carbon modes, such as from road to rail or ship, to reduce emissions.

Mobility Package: A set of initiatives by the EU aimed at modernizing mobility and transport across Europe, focusing on digitalization, decarbonization, and ensuring fair competition within the road transport sector.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS): A shift away from personal vehicle ownership to the use of mobility solutions that are consumed as a service. This includes various forms of transportation, such as public transit, ride-sharing, and bike-sharing, accessed through a single application.




National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD): Sets maximum emissions levels for EU member states for pollutants, including those affecting air quality and contributing to climate change.

Net Zero in Logistics: The state achieved when a logistics company successfully balances the GHG emissions it produces with the amount it removes from the atmosphere, effectively reducing its net emissions to zero. Achieving net zero involves a combination of reducing emissions through operational changes and investing in carbon offsetting or removal projects, such as reforestation or direct air capture technologies. This goal aligns with global efforts to mitigate climate change, including the Paris Agreement’s objective to limit global warming.

Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD): NFRD mandates certain large companies to disclose information on how they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. This includes their impact on climate change, which is especially relevant for companies in the transport and logistics sectors aiming to decarbonize their operations. (




Renewable Energy: Energy from sources that are naturally replenishing but flow-limited. Renewable resources are virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy available per unit of time.

Renewable Energy Directive (RED): An EU directive that sets ambitious targets for all member states to achieve a certain percentage of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, impacting the logistics sector’s shift towards renewable fuels. (




Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV): Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are cars that combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor and a rechargeable battery. Unlike traditional hybrids, PHEVs can be plugged into an external electric power source to recharge their batteries, in addition to being charged through regenerative braking. This allows them to drive significant distances using only electric power, reducing fuel consumption and emissions when compared to conventional vehicles. PHEVs offer a transitional technology towards fully electric vehicles, providing a flexible solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.




Smart Mobility: An EU priority under the European Green Deal, aiming to adopt innovative technologies to make transport smarter, more efficient, and sustainable.

Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy: An EU strategy outlining a pathway for the transport system to achieve green, digital transformation, ensuring the EU transport sector is fit for a clean, digital, and modern economy. (

Sustainable Logistics: An approach to logistics that considers not only economic and operational factors but also environmental and social impacts.

Smart Transportation: The integrated application of modern technologies and management strategies in transportation systems to provide safe, efficient, and sustainable movement of people and goods.

Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR): This regulation requires financial market participants and financial advisers to disclose how they integrate ESG risks into their investment decisions and advisory processes. It aims to increase transparency in how sustainability factors are considered, impacting investments in transport and logistics sectors. (

Sustainable Investment: Investment in activities that contribute to an environmental objective, such as climate change mitigation or adaptation, while considering social and governance factors. In the transport sector, sustainable investments might focus on developing or implementing green technologies and infrastructures, like electric vehicle charging stations or green ports.




Telematics: The branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information, used in vehicles for automatic road assistance, GPS navigation, and in fleet management for tracking and diagnostics.

Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T): An EU policy aimed at connecting all regions in Europe through a comprehensive network of roads, railway lines, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports, and railroad terminals. (

Ten-Year Network Development Plan: The Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) is a strategic document that outlines the future needs and priorities for an energy or transportation network over a ten-year period. Developed by network operators or regulatory bodies, it serves as a roadmap for ensuring the long-term adequacy, resilience, and sustainability of the infrastructure. In the context of electricity and gas markets, it typically includes plans for new investments, upgrades to existing infrastructure, and integration of renewable energy sources. For transportation, it might focus on expanding and modernizing road, rail, and port networks to support sustainable mobility and freight transport. (

Transport Management System (TMS): Software that is designed to streamline the shipping process, from order to delivery, including the optimization of routes and loads for efficiency and sustainability.

Transportation Emissions: Specific reference to the emissions from the transport sector, which is a significant contributor to the EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, and subject to strict reduction targets under the European Green Deal.

Transport Emissions Trading System (ETS): An extension of the EU ETS to cover emissions from the transport sector, including road transportation and aviation. It aims to cap and reduce CO2 emissions through a market-based approach, encouraging companies to adopt cleaner technologies and fuels. (




Zero-emission Vehicles (ZEVs): Vehicles that emit no CO2 or pollutants at the tailpipe. ZEVs include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The promotion of ZEVs is a key component of the EU’s strategy to decarbonize transport.