glossary

Greenhouse gases
A common name for those gases in the atmosphere that absorb sunlight of varying wavelengths and reflect them back towards the Earth's surface: water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrous oxide, methane and CFCs. 


Greenhouse effect
Greenhouse gases prevent the radiation that reaches the Earth from being reflected back out into space. Infrared radiation/heat is reflected back to the Earth's surface by these gases and this makes the Earth warmer than it would otherwise be without these atmospheric greenhouse gases. This is called the greenhouse effect and is a prerequisite for all life on earth. Without it, Earth would be on average approximately 30 degrees colder.


Global warming
When the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, radiation also increases which is then reflected back to the Earth's surface, thus increasing the temperature. The average temperature of the Earth has increased by almost 1 degree during the twentieth century and this increase is predicted to accelerate. This has had, and will continue to have, serious effects on societies and ecosystems. The consequences of global warming that are expected to cause major problems include an increase in temperature that will make many areas uninhabitable, rising sea-levels and increasingly-frequent natural disasters.

Carbon footprint
An impact in the form of greenhouse-gas emissions that are caused by a person, organisation, event, product or country.

Climate compensation
All people and organisations leave a certain carbon footprint behind them. This negative impact on the environment can by compensated for through the purchase of emission quotas or by supporting climate projects. The most common way of climate-compensating is to support climate projects in the form of planting trees, or projects which support either renewable energy or the increasing of energy efficiency.

Deforestation
The felling of forests has a negative impact on the entire ecosystem. The environment, climate and wildlife are hit hard. Because trees efficiently bind carbon dioxide, sustainable forest management including the planting of new trees is an effective way of combating the greenhouse effect.

CO2
Carbon dioxide.

CO2e
Carbon dioxide equivalent: a common standardised measure of how much a given amount of greenhouse gas can affect global warming.

GHG
Greenhouse gas.

ISO14064
The standard for the quantifying and reporting of greenhouse-gas emissions for organisations.

EPD
EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) is a system for describing the environmental characteristics of products and services.

PAS2050 The standard for the calculation of a product's greenhouse-gas emission.

PAS2060 The standard for carbon neutrality.

Methane CH4: hydrocarbon which is produced by, among other things, decomposition processes and is naturally occurring. It is the most important component of natural gas and a contributing factor to the greenhouse effect.

Nitrous oxide N2O: non-combustible gas which occurs, for example, in the use of agricultural fertilisers. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas.

HFCs Hydrofluorocarbon compounds, also called Freons, are powerful greenhouse gases which are used, among other things, as refrigerants in refrigeration units.

PFCs Perfluorcarbon compounds are formed in the manufacture of aluminum and are powerful greenhouse gases.

Sulfur hexafluoride, SF6 SF6 is an artificial, industrially-manufactured substance. An example of its use is within the electricity and electronics industry, and it is a very powerful greenhouse gas.

Clean Development Mechanism, CDM CDM is a programme that allows for climate compensation through participation in projects in developing countries. CDM is regulated by the UN and the Kyoto Protocol.

Joint Implementation, JI Like CDM, JI is a programme for climate-compensating projects, but with a focus on countries from the former Eastern Bloc. JI is regulated by the UN and the Kyoto Protocol.

Voluntary/Verified Emissions Reductions, VER Reduction units from climate-compensating projects from the voluntary market. The projects are mostly governed by non-profit organisations which issue certificates that are, in turn, sold to companies/organisations who wish to climate-compensate. Plan Vivo and Gold Standard are two examples of organisations/standards which work with VER.

Ex-ante credits Emission credits which are sold in advance before any climatic benefits have been created. This usually applies to tree-planting where the compensation is only achieved by the tree actually growing.

Plan Vivo The Plan Vivo Foundation is a registered, non-profit foundation which reviews, approves and monitors climate-compensating projects. Plan Vivo also issues compensation certificates. They specialise in projects which co-operate with small-scale farmers and communities to achieve the sustainable cultivation of forested areas and tree-planting.

Markit A register which records all the Plan Vivo certificates that have been sold. Markit provides a global financial and transparent information service in different industries. Read more at www.markit.com.

Taking Root Non-profit Canadian organisation that works with tree-planting and climate compensation as tools which support the economic development of Nicaragua.