Climate Change Dictionary
Refers to reducing the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions usually by reducing the emissions themselves. (1)
Adjustment of human activities or structures to accomodate open-ended climatic disruption. (Widely considered futile).
The Adaptation Fund was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Fund is to be financed with a share of proceeds from clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities and receive funds from other sources. For more information see: http://unfccc.int/cooperation_and_support/financial_mechanism/items/3659.php
Those solid or liquid particles that are suspended within the air. The particles are formed either through gases reacting in the atmosphere or through the dispersal of material at the surface and typically are between 0.001 to 10 microns (millionth of a meter) in size. Aerosols effect the climate by affecting the amount of short-wave radiation arriving at the Earth’s surface and by changing the optical properties and lifetime of clouds or by acting as a condensation nuclei in the formation of clouds. (1, 5, 6)
The artificial establishment of forests by planting or seeding in an area of non- forest land. (19)
The fraction of solar radiation reflected by a surface or object, often expressed as a percentage. Snow covered surfaces have a high albedo; the albedo of soils ranges from high to low; vegetation covered surfaces and oceans have a low albedo. The Earth’s albedo varies mainly through varying cloudiness, snow, ice, leaf area and land cover changes. (6)
Energy from nontraditional sources. Rather than fossil fuels, energy is derived from natural sources like the sun, wind, or tides. (6, 7)
Anthropogenic greenhouse emissions
Greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from human activities.
A vaguely defined term often used in reference to the totality of plants and animals in any place including variability within species, between species, and between ecosystems. (8)
Fuel such as ethanol and biodiesel, made from vegetation or other biomass. (8)
The movements of crucial chemical constituents necessary to life, such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and other elements and compounds through the Earth system (6, 4)
Biological materials, anything from algae to trees, including dung; important as potentially renewable fuels. (6)
Biomass fuels or biofuels
A fuel produced from dry organic matter or combustible oils produced by plants.
These fuels are considered renewable as long as the vegetation producing them is maintained or replanted, such as firewood, alcohol fermented from sugar, and combustible oils extracted from soy beans. Their use in place of fossil fuels cuts greenhouse gas emissions because the plants that are the fuel sources capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Applying lessons learned from the study of natural methods and systems to the design of technology. (4)
As opposed to petroleum, biorenewable materials such as whey from cheese-making or from corn can be used to make plastics. (4)
Carbon particles from soot, charcoal, coal, diesel, oil and other sources usually associated with combustion.
A hole drilled into the ice or the Earth in order to gather geophysical data. The ice core samples that climate researchers use to determine atmospheric composition in earlier years are from “boreholes”. (6)
Electricity generated from fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas).
The 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Chaire by Gro Harland Brundtland, that put the term sustainable development into the global consciousness and set the ball rolling for a subsequent Earth Summit in 1992. (8)
The total mass of a gaseous substance of concern in the atmosphere. (4)
In the context of climate change, the process of developing the technical skills and institutional capability in developing countries and economies in transition to enable them to address effectively the causes and results of climate change.
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)
The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a secure reservoir.
Allows an entity to produce a specified amount of greenhouse gases.
On land, the Carbon cycle begins with plants and trees use of CO2 from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. As plants grow they store some of the Carbon Dioxide and release the rest through the process respiration. When plants and trees die they decompose and become parts of the soil. After a long period of time, this decomposed plant matter is compacted and transformed into fossil fuels such as oil and coal. In water, the carbon cycle begins with the process diffusion in which gases containing carbon move between the ocean’s surface and the atmosphere. then, underwater plants use this carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Ocean animals eat these plants to get the stored carbon. Then both plants and animals release it back into the ocean through respiration. When the plants and animals die, they either dissolve or get buried in the sediment. meanwhile, other sea creatures remove carbon dioxide from the ocean and use it to make shells, which after a long time breakdown and form rocks. This process also releases carbon into the ocean. Finally, water between the deep ocean and this surface also carries carbon and some of the ocean’s carbon moves from the surface to the atmosphere. (4)
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Gas released when fossil fuels are burned; the chief cause of climate change; see also greenhouse gas (4)
a higher concentration of carbon dioxide causes increased plant growth under certain circumstances (4)
The amount of carbon dioxide caused by an organization, product, individual or event (8)
The amount of carbon by weight released per unit of energy consumed (6)
A popular but misleading term for a trading system through which countries may buy or sell units of greenhouse-gas emissions in an effort to meet their national limits on emissions, either under the Kyoto Protocol or under other agreements, such as that among member states of the European Union. The term comes from the fact that carbon dioxide is the predominant greenhouse gas and other gases are measured in units called “carbon-dioxide equivalents.”
No net emissions of greenhouse gasses – the holy grail of climate change campaigners. If you manage to use only renewable fuel, or offset your carbon emissions by, say, growing enough trees, then you will be carbon neutral (8)
Processes that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they release, such as the absorption of carbon dioxide by growing trees. (4,2)
Markets designed to encourage companies to reduce carbon emissions by making it expensive to pollute; government sets an emissions allowance, companies can sell surplus (credit) or buy a credit if they exceed their allowance (8)
CCSP (US Climate Change Science Program)
Integrates federal research on global and climate change (10)
Family of gases which contribute to ozone depletion, were used in aerosols and refrigerators; manufacturing now largely outlawed in the West (8).
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
A complex and controversial ‘flexibility mechanism’ of the Kyoto Protocol that allows developed countries to achieve part of their carbon reduction targets at home by investing in greenhouse gas reduction projects in the developing world (8)
The theory that pollution caused by humans, especially CO2 emissions, is altering the earth’s climate in many complex ways (8)
Coal Bed Methane
Methane held in coal seams (4)
One of the interrelated components of the Earth’s system, the cryosphere is frozen water in the form of snow, permanently frozen ground (permafrost), floating ice, and glaciers. Fluctuations in the volume of the cryosphere cause changes in ocean sea-level, which directly impact the atmosphere and biosphere. (3,4)
Involves shedding leaves at the end of the growing center (3)
Conversion of forest to non-forest
The natural or human-made formation of desert from usable land (3)
The popular name for the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (8)
Producing more goods and services with fewer resources and less waste and pollution (8)
A liquid emission, usually wastewater—treated or untreated—,that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters (6)
EHS (environment, health, safety)
Refers primarily to corporate programs to promote employees’ health and protect their safety; environmental protection programs were traditionally included in the same management category (8)
Obtaining energy from waste through a variety of processes (e.g. combustion). (6)
1. Ecosystems and natural resources that can be directly and indirectly affected (positively or negatively) by a company’s operation, products and services
2. The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development and survival of organism (6)
Environment, Social, Governance (ESG)
There is a growing view among investment professionals that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios. Investors fulfilling their fiduciary (or equivalent) duty therefore need to give appropriate consideration to these issues, but to date have lacked a framework for doing so. The Principles for Responsible Investment provided this framework. (16)
Environmental Defense Fund
A U.S. conservation law group that tackles environmental problems with a strong scientific approach; increasingly looking for positive solutions, often working with business (www.edf.org) (8)
The area over which a company (or any person or body) had an environmental effect; often not clear how damaging the footprint might be; also referred to as environmental imprint or rucksack (8)
Environmental Impact Assessment
Systematic approach, often detailed in laws and codes, to assessing all environmental impacts of a given project, throughout the project lifecycle; today a social impact assessment is often required too (8)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
U.S. government agency; also important internationally because many small country governments copy its regulations (www.epa.org) (8)
The potential for adverse effects on living organisms associated with pollution of the environment by effluents, emissions, wastes, or accidental chemical releases; energy use; or the depletion of natural resources. (6)
Ethyl alcohol now used often as an alternative automotive fuel derived from grain and corn; for automobile fuel it is usually blended with gasoline to form gasohol (6)
Factors that increase or decrease the rate of progress, positive/negative feedback
The G8 is considered a process that concludes in an an annual summit of the Heads of State and Government of the member countries which include, Canada, the Russian Federation, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United states, together with the European Union represented by the European Council’s duty President and by the President of the European Commision. At this summit, these main industrialized countries hold talks with the purpose of finding solutions to the main world issues, which are summed up in the ”Final Statement.” The G8 presidency, which rotates among member countries, works to define the topics for the agenda and the priorities and goals. (15)
An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. (8)
Global warming potential (GWP)
An index representing the combined effect of the differing times greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere and their relative effectiveness in absorbing outgoing infrared radiation.
a movement or change that begins among the ordinary people or a community at a local or regional level, opposed to the center of major political actions, possessing common interests that they can define and then act upon collectively. (9)
Green electricity comes from renewable sources such a wind, solar, and biomass (8)
Greenhouse gases (GHGs)
1. The atmospheric gases responsible for causing global warming and climate change. The major GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20). Less prevalent –but very powerful — greenhouse gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). (6)
2. Any gas that allows sunlight to enter the atmosphere but absorbs the heat (infrared radiation) created as the sunlight is reflected off the Earth’s surface; this includes many gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning (8)
Greenhouse Gas Protocol
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. (13)
Compounds consisting of bromine, chlorine, and fluorine and carbon that can act as powerful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
Substances, which only contain carbon and hydrogen
A part of the climate system that involves subterrane water and liquid surface, like lakes, underground water, oceans, etc.
An agency between two or more nation states for the implementation of projects and other joint tasks in pursuit of a common interest
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Program established the IPCC in 1988. The IPCC is responsible for providing the scientific and technical foundation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), primarily through the publication of periodic assessment reports (see “Second Assessment Report” and “Third Assessment Report”). The IPCC tries to predict the consequences of the greenhouse effect based on existing climate models and literature. (3,4)
International Climate Change Partnership (ICCP)
Global coalition of companies and trade associations committed to constructive participation in international policy making on climate change.
to cover with a flood
a species that is crucial to an ecosystem in the sense that its removal could destroy the whole system (9)
1997 protocol to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change seeking to create binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, which agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions relative to the levels emitted in 1990: The US remains the only major emitter not to sign. (8)
a disposal site in which waster is generally spread in thin layers, compacted, and covered with a fresh layer of soil each day (6)
That portion of cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions by developed countries — countries trying to meet mandatory limits under the Kyoto Protocol — that may reappear in other countries not bound by such limits. For example, multinational corporations may shift factories from developed countries to developing countries to escape restrictions on emissions.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating
A registered ecology-oriented system of rating existing and new buildings, interiors, and other components based on environmental effectiveness. The LEED checklist integrates over 60 different criteria and results in certification at 4 levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. LEED is run under the authority of U.S. Green Building Council (6, 11)
the electromagnetic radiation emitted by means of the surface and atmosphere in wavelengths greater than 4 micrometers (6, 12)
Benefits of a climate policy that can be measured in terms of avoided market impacts such as changes in resource productivity (e.g., lower agricultural yields, scarcer water resources) and damages to human-built environment (e.g., coastal flooding due to sea-level rise). (2)
In the context of climate change, a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. Examples include using fossil fuels more efficiently for industrial processes or electricity generation, switching to solar energy or wind power, improving the insulation of buildings, and expanding forests and other “sinks” to remove greater amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
An international agreement to reign in the consumption of chlorine- and bromine-containing chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone, such as methyl chloroform, CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, and others, the Protocol was adopted in Montreal in 1987. It has been adjusted and amended in London (1990), Copenhagen (1992), Vienna (1995), Montreal (1997), and Beijing (1999). (3, 4)
Municipal Solid Waste
Some non-hazardous commercial, instiutional, and industrial wastes and residential solid waste (6,4)
Underground deposits of gases made of small amounts of heavier gaseous hydrocarbon compounds such as butane (C4H10) and propane (C3H8) and 50 to 90 percent methane (CH4) (2)
Net Biome Production (NBP)
Net gain or loss of carbon from a region. NBP is equal to the Net Ecosystem Production minus the carbon lost due to a disturbance, e.g. a forest fire or a forest harvest.(4)
Net Ecosystem Production (NEP)
Net gain or loss of carbon from an ecosystem. NEP is equal to the Net Primary Production minus the carbon lost through heterotrophic respiration.(4)
Net Primary Production (NPP)
The increase in plant biomass or carbon of a unit of a landscape. NPP is equal to the Gross Primary Production minus carbon lost through autotrophic respiration.(4)
A gas made of one atom of nitrogen and two atoms of oxygen.
Gases consisting of one molecule of nitrogen and varying numbers of oxygen molecules. Nitrogen oxides are produced in the emissions of vehicle exhausts and from power stations. In the atmosphere, nitrogen oxides can contribute to formation of photochemical ozone (smog), can impair visibility, and have health consequences; they are thus considered pollutants. ( 4)
A powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 296 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2). Major sources of nitrous oxide include soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning. (4)
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
Organizations that are not part of a governmental structure. They include environmental groups, research institutions, business groups, and associations of urban and local governments. Many NGOs attend climate talks as observers. To be accredited to attend meetings under the Convention, NGOs must be non-profit.
Describes an organization that has been established to reinvest any financial surpluses back into achieving the objectives of the organization. Often used when referring to the voluntary sector. Peculiar to the US because of tax laws protecting work in the public interest. (17)
Offsetting harm here with good there. For example, planting trees to capture CO2 and make up for CO2 that is being emitted. May be voluntary or legally mandated (8)
Describing the lack of hormones, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other toxic materials in cultivation in regards to food and other agricultural products (9)
Damage by chlorine-based chemicals to the protective layer of ozone in the stratosphere. Depletion lets in ultra-violet light that can harm people, animals and plants. Not to be confused with climate change, though it often is; see HCFCs and CFCs (8)
The climate of a past which existed before historical records (3)
extremely tiny pieces of liquid or solid matter whose physical characteristics and methods of combining are part of the feedback mechanisms for the atmosphere (6)
the method by which plants take CO2 from the air to create carbohydrates, this releases O2 during the process
POPs (Persistent organic pollutants)
Set of chemicals that remain in the environment for a long time, disperse widely and lodge in fatty tissue (8)
An international agreement linked to an existing convention, but as a separate and additional agreement which must be signed and ratified by the Parties to the convention concerned. Protocols typically strengthen a convention by adding new, more detailed commitments.
Transmission of energy through space or any medium. Also known as radiant energy (6)
Any waste that emits energy as rays, waves, streams or energetic particles. Radioactive materials are often mixed with hazardous waste, from nuclear reactors, research institutions, or hospitals (6)
Rapid Climate Change
Refers to surprising or abrupt events in climate like rapid deglaciation or massive melting of permafrost which leads to quick changes in the carbon cycle (4)
Reclamation (in recycling)
Restoration of materials found in the waste stream to a beneficial use which may be for purposes other than the original use (6)
To process used or waste material so that it can be reused. (8)
Replanting of forests on lands that have previously contained forests but that have been converted to some other use.
Preferable patterns of climate inconsistencies. (4)
Sources of energy that, unlike fossil fuels, ‘grow back’ in a period not measured in millennia. E.g. biomass, hydro, solar, wind.
Rebuilding and replacing major components of a power plant instead of building a new one (6)
Generally refers to the mean time spent in a reservoir by an atom or molecule, but in terms of greenhouse gases, it refers to the length of time a molecule stays in the atmosphere (4)
The process by which living organisms turn organic matter into CO2, by combustion with oxygen to release energy (1,3)
Refers to the excess radiative energy that, through advection, conduction, and convection processes, has passed from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere (3)
Opportunities to remove atmospheric CO2, either through biological processes (e.g. plants and trees), or geological processes through storage of CO2 in underground reservoirs (6)
The process, mechanism, or activity which removes an aerosol, a greenhouse gas or precursor of a greenhouse gas or aersol from the atmosphere and provides storage for such a substance. An example of would be plants which through photosynthesis turn carbon dioxide into organic matter that is then stored in plants or soils, making plants a sink for carbon dioxide. (4,3,9)
The urban haze that blights cities, especially in the summer; caused by the interaction of sunlight with exhaust and industrial emissions; bad for those with breathing problems (8)
energy derived from the sun
was founded in 1988 as the non-profit European Association for Renewable Energy that conducts its work independently of political parties, institutions, commercial enterprises and interest groups, • is dedicated to the cause of completely substituting for nuclear and fossil energy through renewable energy, • regards solar energy supply as essential to preserve the natural resources and a prerequisite for a sustainable economy, • acts to change conventional political priorities and common infrastructures in favor of renewable energy, from the local to the international level, • brings together expertise from the fields of politics, economy, science, and culture to promote the entry of solar energy, • provides the opportunity to play a part in the sociocultural movement for renewable energy by joining the association for everyone, • considers full renewable energy supply a momentous and visionary goal – the challenge of the century to humanity. HCOIE . Željko Serdar Head of association firstname.lastname@example.org
Stakeholders are those who affect, or are affected by, the activities of a company. They include shareholders, customers, employees, trade unions, business partners, lenders or insurers, investors and analysts, sector or industry experts, government, regulators, host communities, local and international NGOs, the media and suppliers.
Responsible caretaking; based on the premise that we do not own resources but only manage them, and are responsible to future generations for their condition.
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
A compound composed of one sulfur and two oxygen molecules. Through natural and anthropogenic processes, Sulfur dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. the, SO2 is transformed in a complicated series of chemical reactins in the atmosphere to sulfate aerosols. This results in through natural and anthropogenic processes is changed in a complex series of chemical reactions in the atmosphere to sulfate aerosols. These aerosols result in negative radiative forcing (i.e., tending to cool the Earth’s surface). (3)
A colorless gas soluble in alcohol and ether, slightly soluble in water. A very powerful greenhouse gas used primarily in electrical transmission and distribution systems and as a dielectric in electronics. (4)
Long-term maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations (6)
1. How the economic, social and environmental parts of our lives and society connect. Sustainable development is seen as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (17)
2. Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Svalvard Seed Vault
Seven hundred miles from the North Pole, on Svalbard Island, the purpose of this Seed Bank is to perserve a variety of plant seeds, as an effort to protect the planet’s rapidly diminished biodviersty. (14)
the northern part of the boreal forest consisting of open woodland of coniferous trees growing in a rich floor of lichen (3)
The end, or foot, of a glacier. (3)
In connection with sea level, this refers to the increase in volume (and decrease in density) that results from warming water. A warming of the ocean leads to an expansion of the ocean volume and hence an increase in sea level. (4)
Any one of the less common gases found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen, oxygen, and argon make up more than 99 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Other gases, such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, oxides of nitrogen, ozone, and ammonia, are considered trace gases. Although relatively unimportant in terms of their absolute volume, they have significant effects on the Earth’s weather and climate. (3,9,4)
Transient Climate Response
The globally averaged surface air temperature increase, averaged over a 20 year period, centred at the time of CO2 doubling, i.e., at year 70 in a 1% per year compound CO2 increase experiment with a global coupled climate model.(4)
The lowest part of the atmosphere from the surface to about 10 km in altitude in mid-latitudes (ranging from 9 km in high latitudes to 16 km in the tropics on average) where clouds and “weather” phenomena occur. In the troposphere temperatures generally decrease with height.(2)
A sector of the market defined by the Roper ASW Green Gauge Report as the most interested in “green” or environmental issues.(9)
The addition of a substance of concern to a reservoir. The uptake of carbon containing substances, in particular carbon dioxide, is often called (carbon) sequestration. (4)
The energy range just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum. (3,4)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The UNFCCC is a treaty that was negotiated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, was ratified by some 189 countries, and went into effect in March 1994. It initially had no mandatory controls or deadlines. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which did set mandatory limits, was an add-on to the UNFCCC.(4)
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Carbon compounds that evaporate easily at normal air temperatures and contribute to smog; contained in car exhaust emissions, solvents and many cleaning, disinfecting and cosmetic products (8)
The degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity.
a chemical foreign to a biological system or any biotum transferred from its normal habitat (18)
Atmospheric air purified to contain less than 0.1 ppm total hydrocarbons. (18)
1. UNFCC Glossary on Climate Change (http://unfccc.int/essential_background/glossary/items/3666.php)
2. PEW Center on Global Climate Change (http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/full_glossary/glossary.php)
3. NASA Earth Observatory Glossary (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Glossary/?mode=alpha&seg=b&segend=d)
4. Climate Change Glossary: Word Definitions Related to Climate Change and Global Warming (http://climatechangeglossary.com/Glossary_A.html)
5. Climate Change: Fact Sheet Series for Key Stage 4 and A-Level (http://www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/Resources/Fact_Sheets/Key_Stage_4/Climate_Change/04.html)
6. EPA Glossary of Climate Change Terms (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/glossary.html)
7. Offshore Energy and Mineral Management: Renewable Energy Program Definitions (http://www.mms.gov/offshore/alternativeenergy/definitions.htm)
9. The Dictionary of Sustainable Management (www.sustainabilitydictionary.com/)
11. Search Data Center (http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid80_gci1284408,00.html)
12. Encyclopedia.com (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O16-longwaveradiation.html)
13. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (http://ghgprotocol.org)
14. TIME with CNN (http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1880843_1849071,00.html)
15. G8 Summit 2009 (http://www.g8italia2009.it/G8/Home/G8-G8_Layout_locale-1199882116809_Summit.htm)
16. Principles for Responsible Investment (http://www.unpri.org/principles/)
17. Fourth Sector (http://fourthsector.net)
18. US EPA Terms of Envt. (http://www.epa.gov/OCEPAterms/xyzterms.html)
19. OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms (http://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=55)
Head of association