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"It's a Wash" Glossary

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

Additionality

A project is additional if the greenhouse gas emissions reductions or removals for it would not have occurred without revenue from the sale of credits.

Afforestation and reforestation (A/R)

Reforestation includes planting trees or allowing trees to regrow on land that had recently been covered with forest; afforestation involves planting trees on land that has not recently been covered with forest—neither are to be confused with carbon offset projects.

Cap-and-trade

A system for controlling carbon emissions and other forms of atmospheric pollution by which an upper limit is set on the amount a given business or other organization may produce but which allows further capacity to be bought from other organizations that have not used their full allowance.

Carbon auditing

A means of measuring and recording the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of an organization or building within a defined system.

Carbon certification

A process that organizations and companies use to claim emissions reductions within carbon offset projects are indeed real and accurate.

Carbon cowboys

Term for entrepreneurs in the carbon market who do not always comply with national and international law or norms.

Carbon credits

Permits that allow the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases; credit permits the emission of one ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

The leading greenhouse gas, which is emitted from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and natural gas), from wildfires, and occasionally from natural processes like volcanic eruptions.

Carbon markets

Trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought; divided between the compliance and voluntary market--the former requires participants to meet certain carbon reduction targets, where the latter is done voluntarily on the part of participants.

Carbon offsets

An instrument that represents the removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

Carbon tax

A levy on the carbon content of fossil fuels, which may also refer to other greenhouse gas emissions as well, such as methane; sets a price on emissions to encourage consumers, businesses and governments to produce fewer emissions.

COP

Conference of the parties is the supreme governing body of an international convention, composed of representatives of the member states of the UN; often a shorthand for the climate change-related conference of the parties.

Global Stocktake Report

UN-issued report in 2023 that assesses the state of the planet vis-à-vis climate change and the path forward.

Greenwashing

The process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how the actions of a company, government or NGO are environmentally sound.

IPCC

An intergovernmental body of the United Nations whose job is to advance scientific knowledge about climate change caused by human activities.

Mitigation

The lessening or minimizing of adverse impacts through policies or technological solutions; most often applied to the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather or increased temperatures.

Paris Agreement

A legally binding international treaty on climate change; was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21).

Payments for ecosystems services (PES)

Economic incentives typically offered to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide some sort of ecological service; promote the conservation of natural resources in the marketplace.

REDD+

"Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries" (REDD+); a framework created by the UN to help guide climate change activities in the forest sector through voluntary offsets.

Verra

The world’s largest carbon credit certifier, which leads a number of global standards designed to drive investment towards activities that mitigate climate change; recently embroiled in controversy surrounding the way it audits credits.