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Glossary of terms
Abrupt climate change: A change in climate over a widespread area that takes
place so rapidly and unexpectedly that human and natural systems have dif-
ficulty adapting. An abrupt climate change occurs on the scale of decades,
rather than centuries, and persists for years.
Aerosols: Solid or liquid particles suspended within the atmosphere (see
â€˜Sulphate aerosolsâ€™ and â€˜Black carbon aerosolsâ€™).
Afforestation: Planting of new forests on lands that have not been recently
Albedo: Refers to the ratio of light from the sun that is reflected by the earthâ€™s
surface to the light received by it. Unreflected light is converted to infrared
radiation (i.e. heat), which causes atmospheric warming (see â€˜Radiative forc-
ingâ€™). Thus, surfaces with a high albedo (e.g. snow and ice) generally con-
tribute to cooling, whereas surfaces with a low albedo (e.g. forests) generally
contribute to warming. Changes in land use that significantly alter the charac-
teristics of land surfaces can therefore influence the climate through changes
Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS): A coalition of some 43 low-lying and
small island countries, most of which are members of the G77, which are
particularly vulnerable to the potential adverse consequences of climate
change such as sea-level rise, coral bleaching, and increased frequency and
intensity of tropical storms.
Allocation: Under an emissions trading scheme, permits to emit can initially be
given away either for free, usually under a â€˜grandfatheringâ€™ approach based
on past emissions in a base year, or by using an â€˜updatingâ€™ approach based on
the more recent emissions. The alternative is to auction permits in an initial
Analyst: Employee of a brokerage or fund management house who studies com-
panies and makes buy-and-sell recommendations on their stocks. Most spe-
cialise in a specific industry.
Ancillary benefits: Complementary benefits of a climate policy including
improvements in local air quality and reduced reliance of imported fossil
Annex A: A list in the Kyoto Protocol of the six greenhouse gases and the sources
of emissions covered under the Kyoto Protocol. See also â€˜Basket of gasesâ€™.
Glossary of terms
Annex B: A list in the Kyoto Protocol of 38 countries plus the European
Community that agreed to QELRCs (emission targets), along with the
QELRCs they accepted. The list is nearly identical to the Annex I Parties
listed in the Convention except that it does not include Belarus or Turkey.
Annex I Parties: The 40 countries plus the European Economic Community
listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC that agreed to try to limit their GHG
emissions: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Economic Community, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States.
Anthropogenic emissions: Emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from
Assigned amount: In the Kyoto Protocol, the permitted emissions, in CO2
equivalents, during a commitment period. It is calculated using the
Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Commitment (QELRC),
together with rules specifying how and what emissions are to be counted.
Balance sheet: Also called the statement of financial condition, it is a summary
of the assets, liabilities and ownersâ€™ equity.
Base year: Targets for reducing GHG emissions are often defined in relation to
a base year. In the Kyoto Protocol, 1990 is the base year for most countries for
the major GHGs; 1995 can be used as the base year for some of the minor
Baselines: The baseline estimates of population, GDP, energy use and hence
resultant greenhouse gas emissions without climate policies, determine how
big a reduction is required, and also what the impacts of climate change
without policy will be.
Basket of gases: This refers to the group six of greenhouse gases regulated
under the Kyoto Protocol. They are listed in Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol
and include: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluo-
Best-in-class: An investment approach where the leading investee companies
with regard to SEE criteria from each individual sector or industry group are
identified and included in the investment portfolio.
Biodiversity: The variety of organisms found within a specified geographic
Black carbon aerosols: Particles of carbon in the atmosphere produced by inef-
ficient combustion of fossil fuels or biomass. Black carbon aerosols absorb
light from the sun, shading and cooling the earthâ€™s surface, but contribute to
significant warming of the atmosphere (see â€˜Radiative forcingâ€™).
Book value: A companyâ€™s book value is its total assets minus intangible assets
and liabilities, such as debt.
Brand equity: An intangible value-added aspect of particular goods otherwise
not considered unique.
Glossary of terms 655
Bubble: An option in the Kyoto Protocol that allows a group of countries to
meet their targets jointly by aggregating their total emissions. The member
states of the European Union are utilising this option.
Business case: A rationale for making a business decision, usually involving
quantitative analysis of costs, benefits and trade-offs.
Business practice risk: Losses arising from unintentional or negligent failure to
meet a professional obligation to specific clients (including fiduciary and
suitability requirements), or from the nature of design of a product.
Buy side analyst: A financial analyst employed by a non-brokerage firm, typi-
cally one of the larger money management firms that purchase securities on
their own accounts.
Capital stock: Existing investments in energy plant and equipment that may or
may not be modified once installed.
Carbon dioxide (CO2): CO2 is a colourless, odourless, non-poisonous gas that is
a normal part of the ambient air. Of the six greenhouse gases normally tar-
geted, CO2 contributes the most to human-induced global warming. Human
activities such as fossil fuel combustion and deforestation have increased
atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by approximately 30% since the indus-
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e): The emissions of a gas, by weight, multi-
plied by its â€˜global warming potentialâ€™.
Carbon sinks: Processes that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
than they release. Both the terrestrial biosphere and oceans can act as carbon
Carbon taxes: A surcharge on the carbon content of oil, coal and gas that dis-
courages the use of fossil fuels and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Cash flow: Earnings before depreciation, amortization and non-cash charges
(sometimes called cash earnings).
Certified emissions reduction (CER): Reductions of greenhouse gases achieved
by a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project. A CER can be sold or
counted toward Annex I countriesâ€™ emissions commitments. Reductions
must be additional to any that would otherwise occur.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): CFCs are synthetic industrial gases composed of
chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. They have been used as refrigerants, aerosol
propellants, cleaning solvents and in the manufacture of plastic foam. There
are no natural sources of CFCs. CFCs have an atmospheric lifetime of decades
to centuries, and they have 100-year â€˜global warming potentialsâ€™ thousands
of times that of CO2, depending on the gas. In addition to being greenhouse
gases, CFCs also contribute to ozone depletion in the stratosphere and are
controlled under the Montreal Protocol.
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): One of the three market mechanisms
established by the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM is designed to promote sustain-
able development in developing countries and assist Annex I Parties in
meeting their greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. It enables
industrialised countries to invest in emission reduction projects in develop-
ing countries and to receive credits for reductions achieved.
Glossary of terms
Climate: The long-term average weather of a region including typical weather
patterns, the frequency and intensity of storms, cold spells and heatwaves.
Climate is not the same as weather.
Climate change: Refers to changes in long-term trends in the average climate,
such as changes in average temperatures. In IPCC usage, climate change
refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability
or as a result of human activity. In UNFCCC usage, climate change refers to a
change in climate that is attributable directly or indirectly to human activity
that alters atmospheric composition.
Climate sensitivity: The average global air surface temperature change resulting
from a doubling of pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The IPCC
estimates climate sensitivity at 1.5â€“4.5Â°C (2.7â€“8.1Â°F).
Climate variability: Refers to changes in patterns, such as precipitation pat-
terns, in the weather and climate.
Commitment period: The period under the Kyoto Protocol during which
Annex I Partiesâ€™ GHG emissions, averaged over the period, must be within
their emission targets. The first commitment period runs from 1 January
2008 to 31 December 2012.
Conference of the Parties (COP): The supreme decision-making body com-
prised of the parties that have ratified the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change. It meets on an annual basis. As of February 2003, it is com-
prised of 188 countries.
Core indicator: Core indicators are those indicators identified in the GRI
Guidelines to be of interest to most stakeholders and assumed to be material
unless deemed otherwise on the basis of the GRI Reporting Principles.
Corporate citizenship: Company activities concerned with treating the stake-
holders of the firm ethically and in a socially responsible manner.
Corporate governance: The system by which business corporations are directed
and controlled. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution
of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR): Commitment to uphold the rights of cit-
izens and communities, behave according to accepted ethical standards, and
contribute to socio-economic development and quality of life. Also known
as Corporate Responsibility (CR) and Corporate Accountability (CA).
Correlation: A statistical correspondence between two or more variables.
Corruption: The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can hurt everyone
whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a
position of authority.
Damage to physical assets: Losses arising from loss or damage to physical
assets from natural disaster or other events.
Discounting: The process that reduces future costs and benefits to reflect the
time value of money and the common preference of consumption now rather
Downstream: The term downstream relates to a production chain that extends
from the extraction of raw materials to the use of a good or service by an end-
user. â€˜Downstreamâ€™ refers to those organizations that play a role in the distri-
bution or use of goods and services provided by the organization.
Glossary of terms 657
Early crediting: A provision that allows crediting of emission reductions
achieved prior to the start of a legally imposed emission control period. These
credits can then be used to assist in achieving compliance once a legally
imposed system begins.