UN glossary on climate change
The adoption of policies and practices aimed at preparing for the effects of climate change, accepting that complete avoidance is now impossible because of the inertia of the atmospheric and oceanic systems.
The Adaptation Fund was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
Of human origin: used to describe greenhouse gases emitted by human activities
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.
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.
The main greenhouse gas caused by human activities; it also originates from natural sources like volcanic activity.
The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir.
A natural feature which absorbs CO2, such as a forest
Climate is usually defined as the “average weather”, or as the statistical description of the weather in terms of the mean and variability quantities such as temperature, precipitation, and wind over periods of several decades, usually three decades. In a wider sense the “climate” is the description of the state of the climate system. (IPCC)
As described by the UNFCCC: a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
As described by the IPCC: Climate change, as referred to in the observational record of climate, occurs because of internal changes within the climate system or in the interaction between its components, or because of changes in external forces either for natural reasons or because of human activities. It is generally not possible to make a clear attribution between these causes.
Conference of the Parties (COP)
The supreme body of the UNFCCC. It currently meets once a year to review the Convention's progress.
A formal agreement that (unlike a resolution) leads to binding actions.
A non-binding political statement made by ministers attending a major meeting.
One of three Kyoto mechanisms. Countries that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol and have legally binding emission targets are allowed a certain amount of emissions which should decrease over time to achieve overall emission reduction. In the Kyoto scheme each allowance is called an Assigned Amount Unit (AAU), equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide. These allowances are tradable among countries. At the end of a set period each country must hold the same amount of AAUs as it has emitted tonnes of greenhouse gases. In case the country emitted more, they can add to the AAUs offsets that have been created under the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms in order to balance the additional emissions. Emissions trading offer the choice of taking possibly unpopular steps at home, like restricting road traffic, or paying another country to cut its emissions instead. A deal like that may mean the emissions can be reduced more cheaply.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs)
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).
Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
The World’s poorest countries. The criteria currently used by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for designation as an LDC includes low income, human resource weakness and economic vulnerability. Currently 50 countries have been designated as LDCs by the UN General Assembly.
Policies and measures designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases so as to mitigate the effects of climate change. 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.
Carbon offsets aim to neutralize the amount of greenhouse gases a person or company produces. Markets, companies, governments or other entities buy carbon offsets in order to comply with caps on the total amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. In a smaller sale, individuals, companies, or governments purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use and other sources.
An international agreement linked to an existing convention, but as a separate and additional agreement. Protocols typically strengthen a convention by adding new, more detailed commitments.
Formal approval, often by a Parliament or other national legislature, of a convention, protocol, or treaty, enabling a country to become a party.
Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are adopted by firms or other actors in the absence of government mandates. Voluntary measures help make climate friendly products or processes more readily available or encourage consumers to incorporate environmental values in their market choices (IPCC)
Live from Copenhagen
- CoolPlanet2009 team visit COP15
- Melting ice sculptures symbolizing climate change
- Save Copenhagen: Real Deal Now!
- Earth hour today! Don’t forget!
- Exclusive meeting with Al Gore
- Magnus the Lucia bride from Commute Greener
- Earth is calling – Enjoy a COP15 meal
- Tutu demanding climate aid to developing countries
- ”What do we want? Climate justice!”
- Sunday 13: Desmond Tutu at the City Hall Square