Tuesday, 26 October, 2021

a glossary of climate jargon


The things you can try to do to offset the greenhouse gasses released by your activities – such as flying or using coal-fired electricity. These activities can include tree planting or buying carbon credits.

The problem is that if we burn too much carbon, we might not have space for enough offsets.

CLEAN COAL

According to the coal industry, clean coal is coal that is burnt in a plant attached to CCS technology. According to climate scientist Will Steffen, it is equivalent to dry water.

EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME/ETS

To provide an incentive to drive down emissions some jurisdictions issue permits to industry to emit a set amount of greenhouse gasses without cost and allow them to trade the permits they do not use. This market incentive has proved to be a fast and efficient way for whole economies to drive down emissions.

GREEN CLIMATE FUND

Under the Paris Agreement, developed nations signed on to secure $US100 billion a year to pay for the green transformation of developing economies. Not yet met, the commitment will be central to COP26 negotiations. So far, $US10 billion has been pledged and 190 projects have been funded, including a $US1.4 billion to mitigate emissions in the industrial city of Shandong, China.

An artwork entitled ‘One Heart One Tree’ by artist Naziha Mestaoui displayed on the Eiffel tower ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

An artwork entitled ‘One Heart One Tree’ by artist Naziha Mestaoui displayed on the Eiffel tower ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.Credit:AP

GREEN HYDROGEN

Hydrogen can be burnt as a fuel without creating any greenhouse gasses, which is great news. The bad news is that it needs heaps of electricity to create hydrogen by splitting water molecules. In environmental terms, there are three categories of hydrogen. Green Hydrogen refers to hydrogen production using renewable energy; blue hydrogen is produced with fossil fuels, but with the pollution captured and stored; and brown hydrogen is created with polluting fossil fuels.

IPCC

Stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organisation in 1988 to provide objective scientific information on human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change, including the impacts, risks and options its 195 member nations should consider. The first volume of its sixth assessment report, released in August, is meant to guide decisions made at the Glasgow summit. Among its many grim findings: that there is no way the world can keep global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius.

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NDC

Stands for Nationally Determined Contributions, which is the amount of greenhouse gas each nation pledges to reduce emitting. Under the Paris Agreement these targets are supposed to increase over time.

NEGATIVE EMISSIONS

Climate scientists use the term to describe ways of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This can mean using technology – new and mostly unproven – to suck gasses from the sky and natural solutions such as tree planting, which is controversial as it can be abused by big polluters. Some projections suggest that to hit safe climate targets, we will have to suck 10 billion tonnes of carbon out of the sky every year until 2100.

Christophe Gebald, left, and Jan Wurzbacher, co-founders and co-chief executive officers of Climeworks, at the Orca direct air capture and storage facility, in Hellisheidi, Iceland.

Christophe Gebald, left, and Jan Wurzbacher, co-founders and co-chief executive officers of Climeworks, at the Orca direct air capture and storage facility, in Hellisheidi, Iceland.Credit:Bloomberg

NET ZERO

When a company or nation announces they are pursuing net zero, it means they are seeking to reduce their emissions as much as possible, and then to offset those emissions it cannot avoid. This can be done by, say, planting trees, or buying carbon credits on a market.

SLCPs

This stands for short-lived climate pollutants – the other gasses and toxins contributing to climate change alongside carbon dioxide. The best known is methane, produced chiefly by animal farming, which rapidly warms the atmosphere, but the term also includes the hydrofluorocarbons used in airconditioning and refrigeration, and tropospheric ozone, which is formed when sunlight interacts with different pollutants.

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