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Glossary

Carbon Terms:

Additionality

Additionality is the concept that the reductions in emissions achieved by a project must be above and beyond ‘business as usual’, or what would have occurred in the absence of intervention.

Afforestation

Afforestation is the creation of new forest by planting new trees or sowing new seeds in an area where there were no trees before.

Averaging

A new method of carbon accounting in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), 'averaging' can be defined as a carbon accounting method in which an ETS participant receives carbon credits that are equivalent to the long-term average level of carbon storage in the forest across multiple rotations. This is an inaccurate accounting method which leads to double counting and is a loophole in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Buffer Pool

A Buffer Pool is an approach for addressing potential non-permanence that requires that projects maintain adequate buffer reserves of non-tradable carbon offsets to cover unforeseen losses in carbon stocks. Buffer pools are usually based on a project-level risk assessment, and will hold a portion of a project’s credits in reserve to pull from in the event of an unexpected disturbance.

Cap-and-Trade/Emission Trading System

An Emission Trading System (ETS) or “cap-and-trade” system sets an absolute limit or 'cap' on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted each year by the entities covered by the system. This allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters and creates supply and demand while establishing a market price for greenhouse gas emissions. The cap (usually made by governments) helps ensure that the required emission reductions will take place to keep the emitters regulated. Some examples of these include the EU ETS and the California Cap-and-Trade Program

Carbon Leakage

Carbon leakage refers to a spill-over effect where a decrease in emissions from one country with strict climate policy results in increased emissions in another country with less stringent emissions policies. This situation may occur if asymmetrical climate policies or related costs related to climate policies increased to the point where businesses were to transfer production to other countries with laxer emission constraints. This ultimately is all caused by asymmetrical climate policies and does not lead to any reduction of global emissions.s despite one countries’ numbers saying otherwise.

Carbon Offset

Carbon offsets are reductions or removals of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases emissions in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Offsets are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent.They tend to be bought by large emitters seeking to better their reputation and do their part in limiting global warming.

Carbon Removal

Carbon removal is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it. locking it away for years on end. This can be done through technological solutions, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facilities which store carbon deep below the earth’s surface (e.g. Longship, Orca, and The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line) or nature-based solutions. Carbon removal is critical to achieve U.S. and global emissions reduction targets by 2050.

Carbon SaaS (Sequestration as a Service)

Carbon SaaS is a term used to mean the licensing and outsourcing of services that sequester and hold carbon. This is licensed on a subscription basis and is a centrally hosted utility for emitters seeking to offset their own emissions.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Forests contribute greatly to global carbon sequestration through natural photosynthesis cycles, and are an integral part in reducing the effects of climate change.

Deforestation

Deforestation is the clearing, destroying, or otherwise removal of trees through deliberate, natural, or accidental means. It can occur in any area densely populated by trees and other plant life, but the majority of it is currently happening in the Amazon rainforest. Trees are one of if not the largest carbon sinks in the world, yet the Amazon has become a net-emitter due to this massive amount of deforestation and carbon entering the atmosphere.

Gold Standard

The Gold Standard (GS) was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs, and is an organization that creates standards and frameworks to catalyze climate action. Their standards ensure projects that reduce carbon emissions feature the highest levels of environmental integrity and contribute to sustainable development. Similar to Verra and their VCS, GS prices credits and sells them to corporations and emitting entities that want to offset their emissions.

Greenhouse Gas:

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The Kyoto Protocol identifies six main GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane(CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

Greenwashing

"Greenwashing" is a term to describe a phenomenon where an entity falsely represents their sustainability progress or offerings as being “environmentally friendly” without the ability to back up those claims. It is typically seen as a common marketing ploy to make products or services seem more sustainable than they are.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options.

Project Durability

Project durability refers to the ability of a project to maintain its benefits for a long time after the project has been completed. Many projects, whether dealing with forestry assets or renewable energy, are prone to wear, pressure, and damage, occurring through natural disasters, illegal logging, or price fluctuation in the marketplace. This can have an impact on the carbon offset market, as these projects would not reduce as much emissions as they had initially claimed.

Permanence

Related to project durability, permanence refers to reductions that cannot be reversed and carbon removed can't be reintroduced into the atmosphere. Permanence is an important criteria in any credible offset program, and will become increasingly important as entities look to achieve net zero emissions.

REDD

REDD is an acronym and ideology that stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.”

REDD+

REDD+ is a United Nations-backed framework that aims to curb climate change by stopping the destruction of forests.

Verra

Verra is an organization that creates standards and frameworks for climate investment projects. Verra owns The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), currently the world’s largest voluntary GHG program. It allows certified projects to turn their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and removals into tradable carbon credits (VCUs). There have been over 800 million credits issued and just under 2000 projects as of the end of 2021.

Voluntary Carbon Market

Voluntary carbon markets (VCM) enable businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, universities, municipalities, and individuals to voluntarily offset their emissions outside of regulations and the compliance market.

WWF

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, that works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment

1.5ºC Pathway

The 1.5º C pathway is a term used in the 6th IPCC Assessment Report (AR6) and the Paris Climate Agreement that defines an emissions mitigation pathway where global warming is limited to 1.5º Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid catastrophic damage to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth.

Non Carbon Terms:

Climate data (what does this refer to)

Climate data refers to a vast corpus of records representing the entire terrestrial biome. This includes weather, crop output, forest biomass, soil health, carbon emissions, disease transmission -- essentially any timescaled record which describes nature or the human species’ relationship with nature.

Parametric insurance

Parametric insurance is a non-traditional insurance product that offers pre-specified payouts based upon a trigger event. This can include the ideology that if it rains three inches then a payment would be made to the buyer based on the premade contract and conditions. There is no need for a claim to be filed or any appraisal to be made.

Smart contract

A smart contract is an agreement between two people in the form of computer code. These are present on the blockchain and are used to automatically execute, control or document certain events and actions that correspond to the terms of an agreement.

Oracle

Oracles are data feeds from external systems that feed vital information into blockchains that smart contracts may need to execute under specific conditions. Chainlink is one of the leaders in this space as a decentralized oracle network that provides real-world data to smart contracts on the blockchain.

Hyperlocal data

Hyperlocal data refers to a more niche version of local data. A zip code, for example, is an example of local data, but a street address is hyperlocal data. It's more specific and tends to surround a very particular, defined geographic area.

Geospatial intelligence

The analysis of imagery and geographic information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and activities on the Earth.

Skill score

A skill score measures the accuracy of a forecast with reference to the accuracy of a standard forecast. A skill score is defined as (mean score - mean reference score) / (perfect score - mean reference score). The skill score is zero if the mean score of the forecast equals the mean score of the reference forecast, and equals one if the mean score of the forecast equals the best possible score.

DAO (decentralized autonomous organization)

A DAO is a community-led entity with no central authority. It is fully autonomous and transparent. There are smart contracts that lay the foundational rules, execute the agreed upon decisions, and at any point, proposals, voting, and even the very code itself can be publicly audited. One of the most important aspects of DAOs is transparency, which leads to a more efficient organization.

Decentralization

In blockchain, decentralization refers to the transfer of control and decision-making from a centralized entity to a distributed network. Decentralized networks strive to reduce the level of trust that participants must place in one another, and deter their ability to exert authority or control over one another in ways that degrade the functionality of the network.

NFT (Non-Fungible Token)

An NFT is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger. The blockchain serves as a public ledger, allowing anyone to verify the NFT's authenticity and who owns it. NFTs tend to be associated with easily-reproducible items such as photos, videos, and pieces of digital art. They also can be used for tickets and other types of utilizations in the real world.