Carbon and GHG Glossary of Terms

  • Above Ground Biomass - live biomass above ground level, specifically referring to stem and leaf.
  • Above Ground Biomass - live biomass above ground level, specifically referring to stem and leaf.
  • Additionality - a term defined by the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to describe the fact that a carbon dioxide reduction project would not have occurred had it not been for concern for the mitigation of climate change. (i.e. above and beyond “business as usual”)
  • Additionality - a term defined by the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to describe the fact that a carbon dioxide reduction project would not have occurred had it not been for concern for the mitigation of climate change. (i.e. above and beyond “business as usual”)
  • Afforestation - the planting, seeding, and/or promotion of natural seed sources of new forests on lands that have not (or not recently) been forested.
  • AFOLU (AFOLU) - Acronym for - Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use - as defined by Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS)
  • AFOLU Expert (AFOLU) - A person with expertise and experience in AFOLU methodologies, tools, modules and/or projects and who is approved by the VCSA for methodology element assessments within a given AFOLU project category.
  • AFOLU Project Element (AFOLU) - An AFOLU market leakage assessment or non-permanence risk assessment that is subject to the double approval process.
  • Agricultural Land Management (ALM) - reducing greenhouse gas emissions (including increasing carbon stocks in soils and biomass) through various eligible land use and management practices including; improved cropland management, improved grassland management, and cropland and grassland land use conversions.
  • Alternative Energy - energy (typically renewable) obtained from nontraditional sources such as wind, solar power, natural gas, or hydrogen.
  • American Carbon Registry (ACR) (ACR) - is a leading voluntary offset program with strong standards for environmental integrity and over a decade of operational experience in high quality carbon offset issuance, serialization and transparent on-line transaction reporting.
  • Baseline Emissions - The Greenhouse gas emissions that would occur without any form of legal or political intervention.
  • Below Ground Biomass - live biomass below ground level, specifically referring to course roots.
  • Biodiesel - a non-petroleum-based diesel fuel made by transesterification of vegetable oil or animal fat (tallow) or synthesized from any biomass material.
  • Bioenergy - solar energy stored in plant material and released when combusted in the form of biofuels.
  • Biofuels - solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels derived from relatively recently dead biological material. Biofuels can be produced from any (biological) carbon source; although, the most common sources are photosynthetic plants.
  • Biomass - a renewable energy source (biofuel) derived from living or recently dead biological material (including trees, animal wastes, plant fiber, and associated residues). More specifically, biomass refers to plant matter grown specifically to produce electricity or other energy.
  • CAFE (CAFE) - Corporate Average Fuel Economy – a standard and limitations instituted to improve the gas mileage of cars and light trucks and thereby reduce energy consumption. CAFE is administered and regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in conjunction with the EPA.
  • cap and trade - a legal or political system that sets specific mandatory limits on specified emissions, such as CO2 and enforcement actions coupled with a free-market based mechanism whereby emitters can purchase, sell, and trade emission.
  • Carbon Credit - a generic term representing Certified Emission Reduction. A unit of measurement and sale that is a key component to the market-based mechanism of a cap and trade system. A single Carbon Credit is equal to one metric ton (tonne) of sequestered carbon dioxide, or its equivalent in Greenhouse impacts for other chemicals such as methane. Carbon Credits are used in both industrial and personal carbon trading systems.
  • Carbon Cycle - the repeating, natural process of carbon storage (sequestration) and emission.
  • Carbon Dioxide CO (CO) - an odorless, colorless, nonpoisonous, and naturally occurring gas that is a product of fossil fuel or organic material combustion.
  • Carbon Footprint - the carbon dioxide emissions which can be traced back to an individual or corporate entity. More information here>>>
  • Carbon Sequestration - the process (natural or artificial) of storing carbon. Carbon is naturally sequestered in forests, oceans, and soils through the carbon cycle. Carbon is artificially sequestered as a mitigation strategy by injecting CO2 into underground storage sinks and other artificial processes.
  • Carbon Tax - an environmental tax on the emission of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases implemented to protect the environment by creating financial incentives to reduce emissions.
  • CCAR– California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) - a private, non-profit organization originally formed by the State of California that serves as a voluntary Greenhouse gas (GHG) registry to protect and promote early actions to reduce GHG emissions by organizations. The California Registry provides leadership on climate change by developing and promoting credible, accurate, and consistent GHG reporting standards and tools for organizations to measure, monitor, third-party verify, and reduce their GHG emissions consistently across industry sectors and geographical borders.
  • CCBA (CCBA) - Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance - The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance is a partnership between leading companies, NGOs, and research institutes seeking to promote integrated solutions to land management around the world.
  • CCS (CCS) - carbon capture and storage - a process generally engineered as opposed to using natural environmental processes of capturing carbon.
  • CDM - Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) - an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialized countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment (Annex B countries) to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries.
  • CFI (Carbon Financial Instrument) Contracts (CFI) - the commodity traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange which represents 100 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. CFI contracts are made up of Exchange Allowances and Exchange Offsets. The allowances are issued to emitting members based on their emission baseline and the CCX reduction schedule. Offsets are generated by qualifying offset projects.
  • Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) (CCX) - the operator of a North American cap and trade system for all six Greenhouse gases
  • Climate Action Reserve (CAR) (CAR) - is a national offsets program working to ensure integrity, transparency and financial value in the U.S. carbon market. It does this by establishing regulatory-quality standards for the development, quantification and verification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction projects in North America; issuing carbon offset credits known as Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRT) generated from such projects; and tracking the transaction of credits over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.
  • CO2 Equivalent (CDE) (CDE) - carbon dioxide equivalency is a quantity that describes, for a given mixture and amount of greenhouse gas, the amount of CO2 that would have the same global warming potential (GWP), when measured over a specified timescale (generally 100 years).
  • Conference of Parties (COP) (COP) - the primary negotiating body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP is made up of more than 170 nations that have ratified the Convention and serves to promote and review implementation of the Convention.
  • Deforestation - the cutting, harvesting, or otherwise clearing of forest land and not followed by reforestation – typically associated with conversion to another use.
  • Direct Carbon Sequestration - the process of directly capturing CO2 from the source of emission such as a coal fired power plant, separating the CO2 from other emissions, and compressing the carbon dioxide for long-term storage in carbon sinks.
  • Direct Emissions - Emission of GHGs that are directly controlled or owned by an entity. Also known as Scope 1 emissions
  • DOE (DOE) - Department of Energy
  • Double Approval Process - The process by which new methodologies, methodology revisions, additionality performance tests, tools/modules, AFOLU market leakage assessments and AFOLU non-permanence risk assessments are approved under the VCS Program.
  • Emissions Trading - an administrative and financial approach used to control emissions by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in emissions. See also cap and trade.
  • Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) (ETS) - See Emissions Trading
  • EOR – Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) - the process of using CCS to increase the output of oil reserves.
  • EPA (EPA) - United States Environmental Protection Agency – a federal agency of the United States created in 1970 to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment – air, water, and land upon which life depends. EPA leads the United States’ environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts.
  • Equivalent Carbon Dioxide (CO2e) (CO2e) - See CO2 equivalent
  • ERU - Emission Reduction Unit (ERU) - one metric tonne of CO2 equivalent. A common unit of reduction under Joint Implementation.
  • EU ETS (EU ETS) - European Union Emissions Trading Scheme – A trading scheme created and approved by the European Union in 2003 to prepare for the coming mandatory limits on emissions agreed to by the EU under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Expiry Date - the specific date during the month prior to a futures contract’s delivery month on which options on the futures expire.
  • First Validator - The first validator that undertakes an assessment of a methodology element.
  • First Verifier - The first verifier that undertakes an assessment of an AFOLU project element.
  • Flexible Mechanism - mechanisms defined under the Kyoto Protocol intended to lower the overall costs of achieving its emissions targets. These mechanisms enable Parties to achieve emission reductions or to remove carbon from the atmosphere cost-effectively in other countries.
  • FSC - Forest Stewardship Council - a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests.
  • Fungible - The ability to exchange one type of reduction credit achieved under a specific mechanism for reduction credit achieved under a different mechanism. The more fungible a reduction credit is, the more liquid the credit is.
  • Futures Contract - a legally binding agreement to buy or sell a commodity or financial instrument sometime in the future
  • Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry - is a non-profit program established by Georgia Senate Bill 356 in 2004 and is administered by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Georgia Superior Clerks Cooperative Authority (GSCCCA) to provide forest landowners, municipalities, and public and private entities with an official mechanism for the development, documentation, and reporting of carbon sequestration projects undertaken in Georgia.
  • GHG (GHG) - a system or process that emits a Greenhouse gas into the air.
  • GHG Sink - a project or process that removes and/or sequesters Greenhouse gases from the air.
  • Global Warming Potential - (GWP) (GWP) - an index that compares the heat trapping ability of various greenhouse gases to CO2 by their varying power to accelerate global warming as well as their duration in the atmosphere and radiative forcing impact.
  • Green Building Initiative - a not for profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier, and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction.
  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Project (GHG) - a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) project as defined ISO14064-3:2006 Clause 2.14. Projects can include one or more activities.
  • Greenhouse Gases (GHG) (GHG) - trace gases that influence how energy flows in the Earth’s atmosphere by absorbing infrared radiation. There are six primary Greenhouse gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol –Methane CH4, Carbon Dioxide CO2, PFCs perfluorocarbons, Nitrous Oxide N2O, Hydroflourocarbons HFCs, and Sulphur Hexaflouride SF6. It is important to note that CO2, ozone, methane, and water vapor nitrous oxide all occur naturally.
  • Hedging - the practice of offsetting the price risk inherent in any cash market position by taking an equal but opposite position in the futures market.
  • HFCs (HFCs) - See Hydroflourocarbons
  • Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) - A compound consisting of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon. HFCs have global warming potentials anywhere from 90 to 12,000 times that of carbon dioxide and are mainly used as substitutes for ozone depleting substances.
  • Indirect carbon sequestration - Indirect carbon sequestration (terrestrial sequestration) part of the natural carbon cycle where plants “breathe” in carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is the gaseous form of carbon bound with two oxygen atoms. The plants convert the CO2 to Carbon (C) which they need to grow and “exhale” oxygen.
  • Indirect Emissions - GHG emissions that occur as a secondary result of an activity that is not directly controlled or owned by an entity; i.e. purchased electricity or air travel for business purposes. Also known as Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.
  • International Transaction Log (ITL) (ITL) - the United Nations international transactions log and validation process. All Kyoto countries must have registries that conform to the ITL before they can participate in international emissions trading.
  • IPCC (IPCC) - an intergovernmental scientific group established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations (World Meteorological Organization ‘WMO’ and the United Nations Environment Programme ‘UNEP’) and tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity.
  • Joint Implementation - agreements made by and between two or more Nations to help reduce emissions or pollution.
  • Kyoto Protocol - an international agreement that set legally binding targets for the reduction of worldwide emissions of Greenhouse gases. The Kyoto Protocol was created in 1997 by 159 nations attending COP3 in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto Protocal here>>>
  • LEED (LEED) - The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a green building rating system, developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
  • Mega Projects - generally, any project that results in more than 1,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent Greenhouse gas emissions reductions or removals per year, however definition may differ depending on which protocol is being used.
  • Methane - a greenhouse gas (CH4) primarily created through the decomposition of waste such as landfills and animal waste. Methane is also produced from incomplete fossil fuel combustion and in production and distribution of natural gas and petroleum.
  • Methane Digester - a mechanism used to reduce methane emissions and create a renewable energy source by facilitating anaerobic digestion of biodegradable materials and capturing the resulting methane gas.
  • Methodology Element - A new methodology, methodology revision, additionality performance test or tool/module that is subject to the double approval process.
  • Methodology Element Developer - An entity that develops a methodology element.
  • Metric Ton – (metric tonne or tonne métre) - a unit of weight equal to 1,000 kilograms, or 2204.6226 pounds. Also referred to as a megagram.
  • Net irradiance - the difference between the incoming radiation energy and the outgoing radiation energy in a given climate system measured in Watts per square meter.
  • New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement - a mandatory Greenhouse gas trading scheme that commenced on January 1, 2003 aiming to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions to 7.27 tonnes of carbon dioxide per capita by the year 2007.
  • Nitrous Oxide - a greenhouse gas (N2O) that is produced through fossil fuel combustion, biomass combustion, nitric acid production, and in the use of commercial fertilizers.
  • Non-Annex I Countries - countries that have no Greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations but may participate in the Clean Development Mechanism governed by UNFCCC. Typically these are developing nations.
  • Option Contract - a contract that conveys the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a particular commodity at a certain price for a limited period of time.
  • Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) (PCT) - offers quality carbon offsets, measured as one metric tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent (CO2e) that is reduced or removed from the atmosphere as a result of emission-reducing (offset) activities.
  • Pavley Standards - motor vehicle emission standards adopted on a state level that are more stringent than federal requirements. First adopted by California as the result of legislation introduced by Fran Pavley in 2002, these standards are currently adopted or in the process of being adopted by 16 states.
  • Perfluorocarbons - a Greenhouse gas known as perfluorcarbons (PFCs), fluorocarbons, or perfluorochemicals (terms which can be used interchangeably) are formally derived from hydrocarbons by replacing all the hydrogen atoms with fluorine atoms. PFCs are typically released during industrial processes, smelting, and electrical transmission.
  • PFCs (PFCs) - See Perfluorocarbons
  • Project Aggregator - a term for a project developer that actively aggregates smaller projects into a larger carbon project pool.
  • Project Developer - an individual or entity engaged in planning, obtaining, management, tracking, reporting, and other activities related to specific Greenhouse gas projects (project).
  • Project Verifier - a third party, independent entity that is (typically) officially certified by a specific registry, exchange, protocol, or standards organization to evaluate and audit the specific details of a project in order to validate the claims made by the project developer.
  • Proof of Title - document(s) demonstrating ownership or the rights to Greenhouse gas reductions defined within a project.
  • Radiative Forcing - a term taken from climate science and loosely meaning the change in net irradiance at the tropopause. The change is computed based on “unperturbed” values, as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the measured difference relative to the year 1750, the defined starting point of the industrial era. Positive forcing (increased incoming energy) tends to warm the system, while negative forcing (increased outgoing energy) tends to cool it.
  • Reforestation - the process of replanting trees and forests on lands that have recently been harvested, damaged, or cleared for non-forrest activities.
  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI (RGGI) - a cooperative effort between Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states to reduce CO2 emissions. The central component of RGGI is a multi-state cap and trade system.
  • Renewable Energy - a broad category of energy sources that can be rapidly replaced (e.g., corn or switchgrass) or that flow continuously and are not depletable (e.g., wind or solar).
  • Second Validator - The second validator that undertakes an assessment of a methodology element.
  • Second Verifier - The second verifier that undertakes an assessment of an AFOLU project element.
  • SFI – Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) - an independent, charitable organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through the development, publication, management, and promotion of a sustainable forestry management standard made up of nine principles, 13 objectives, 34 performance measures and 102 indicators developed by professional foresters, conservationists, and scientists.
  • Spot Market (Cash Market) - a commodities trading market where commodities are purchased and sold using cash and the commodities are delivered immediately.
  • sulfur hexafluoride - A powerful global warming pollutant that is primarily used in electrical transmission systems, in electronics, and in insulation products.
  • TCR (TCR) - The Climate Registry – a voluntary system where companies can register their emissions.
  • Temporary Certified Emission Reductions - Credits issued for an afforestation or reforestation project activity under the CDM that expires at the end of the commitment period following the one during which it was issued. tCERs are issued for the net anthropogenic Greenhouse gas removals by sinks achieved by the project activity since the project start date.*
  • Terrestrial Sequestration - see indirect carbon sequestration
  • Ton – (short ton) - is a unit of weight equal to 2,000 pounds (around 907.18474 kg). Primarily used in the United States.
  • Trading Volume - the total number of purchases of a commodity during a specific period of time (trading period) typically reported as the total transactions for one trading day.
  • VER – Verified Emission Reduction (VER) - emission reductions that are created outside of the procedures and methodologies for Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) defined by the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. International companies trade in these reductions.
  • Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) (VCS) - a program (the “VCS Program”) developed to provide a global standard and validation and verification program for voluntary Greenhouse gas offsets.
  • Western Climate Initiative (WCI) (WCI) - an international initiative of states and provinces along the western rim of North America to combat climate change caused by global warming. Partners include: the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
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