Glossary of terms
A brief overview of the most commonly used keywords and abbreviations with a short explanation or commentary. This glossary is a work in progress and more terms will be added over time.
Anthropogenic greenhouse gases
Currently, countries bound by the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol are obliged to keep an inventory of emissions 7 greenhouse gases: anthropogenic CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), N2O (nitrous oxide), PFCs (fully fluorinated hydrocarbons), HFCs (Hydrocarbons), SF6 (sulfur fluoride) and NF3 (nitrogen fluoride), which are gases that contribute greatly to the greenhouse effect (see CO2eq below).
CO2eq (CO2 equivalent)
The amount of CO2 that would make an equivalent contribution to the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere as the amount of the relevant other greenhouse gas over some standardized period of time (typically 100 years) - specifically, the amount of the relevant gas × GWP coefficient. E.g. for methane it is about 28 [IPCC (page 714)], which can be read as “1t of CH4 has an equivalent contribution to the atmospheric greenhouse effect as 28t of CO2”. Put simply, methane is 28 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. Here at factsonclimate.org, where available data and proper data processing allow, we prefer CO2eq because it allows us to look at the issue of global climate change more comprehensively and accurately..
For electricity generation, coal-fired power plants produce almost twice as much CO2 emissions as gas-fired power plants and almost a hundred times more than renewables or nuclear power plants. Coal phase-out refers to the shutdown of coal-fired power plants and their replacement by sources of electricity with lower emissions.
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific body established in 1988 to assess the risks of climate change, confirmed by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 43/53. The mission of the IPCC is to provide a comprehensive scientific assessment of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information from around the world on the dangers of climate change caused by human activities, their potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and the options for adapting to or mitigating these consequences. The IPCC is the internationally recognized authority on climate change, producing reports that are the agreement of leading climatologists and the consensus of participating governments. This provides authoritative policy advice with far-reaching implications for the economy and lifestyle [wikipedia].
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the US government agency responsible for monitoring and researching the oceans and atmosphere and the environment more generally. [wikipedia]
RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway)
Representative trends in concentrations are different scenarios for the evolution of greenhouse gas concentrations. They are labelled according to the approximate total radiative forcing in 2100 compared to 1750, e.g. scenario RCP2.6 means 2.6 W/m2[wikipedia]
W and Wh (kW, MW… and kWh, MWh…) (watt, watt-hour and their multiples)
In our context, watts (and multiples thereof) are most often encountered in the context of the energy sector, typically power plant output. Example: the output of the Czech Chvaletice lignite power plant is 820 MW (1 MW = one million watts) and it produces about 3500 GWh of electricity per year. [wikipedia]. One standard LED “bulb” has a power consumption of about 9 W, its classic old equivalent with a filament of about 60 W - if you leave it on for an hour, you will consume about 9 (or 60) Wh (watt-hours) of energy. The net electricity consumption in Czech households is about 1.4 MWh/person/year. [Czech Statistical Office]