UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory National System Home Page
Definitions and Glossary
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The act or process of establishing a forest on land that has not been forested in recent history.
Afforestation, Reforestation, Deforestation
These are the three land-use change and forestry activities which are included in Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol. Net changes resulting from these activities are allowed to be used by the Parties in meeting their GHG obligations under the Protocol in the first commitment period.
Allocation plan
National plan of an EU-Member state, which rules the issuing of allowances for the installations in the EU-Emissions Trading Scheme. The allocation plan is published and notified to the EU-Commission. The plan is based on objective and transparent criteria, including those listed in Annex III of EU-Directive.
Annex B countries
Annex B in the Kyoto Protocol lists those developed countries that have agreed to a commitment to control their greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-12, including those in the OECD, Central and Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation. Not quite the same as Annex I, which also includes Turkey, and Belarus, while Annex B includes Croatia, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Slovenia.
Annex I countries
Annex I to the Climate Convention (UNFCCC) lists all the countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1990, plus countries with economies in transition, Central and Eastern Europe (excluding the former Yugoslavia and Albania). By default the other countries are referred to as Non-Annex I countries. Under Article 4.2 (a & b) of the Convention, Annex I countries commit themselves specifically to the aim of returning individually or jointly to their 1990 levels of GHG emissions by the year 2000.
Annex II countries
Annex II to the Climate Convention lists all countries in the OECD in 1990. Under Article 4.2 (g) of the Convention, these countries are expected to provide financial resources to assist developing countries comply with their obligations such as preparing national reports. Annex II countries are also expected to promote the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries.
Anthropogenic Emissions
Emissions of greenhouse gases associated with human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from industry, and from LULUCF activities.
Assigned Amounts
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that each developed country has agreed that its emissions will not exceed in the first commitment period (2008 - 12) is the assigned amount. This is calculated by multiplying its total greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 by 5 (for the five-year commitment period) and then by the percentage it agreed to as listed in Annex B of the Protocol (e.g., 92 per cent for the EU). Units of the assigned amounts are referred to as either PAAs (Parts of the Assigned Amount) or AAUs (Assigned Amount Units).
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Base year
Emissions limitation/reduction is based on a so-called reference/base year. For the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 and N2O, 1990 was specified as base/reference year. For UK, 1995 is the base year for emissions of the F-gases.
A fuel produced from organic matter or combustible oils produced by plants.
The total dry organic matter or stored energy content of living organisms. Biomass can be used for fuel directly by burning it (e.g., wood), indirectly by fermentation to an alcohol (e.g., sugar) or extraction of combustible oils (e.g., soybeans).
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Carbon Cycle
The natural processes that govern the exchange of carbon (in the form of CO2, carbonates and organic compounds etc.) among the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial systems.Major components include:
  • photosynthesis
  • respiration and decay between atmospheric and terrestrial systems
  • thermodynamic invasion and evasion between the ocean and atmosphere
  • operation of the carbon pump
  • and mixing in the deep ocean (approx. 90 billion tonnes / year)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent
Every greenhouse gas can be converted in terms of its global warming potential to carbon dioxide (CO2). 1 kg of methane (CH2), for example, corresponds to 21 kg of CO2 equivalent.
Carbon Dioxide, or CO2
A naturally occurring gas, it is also a by-product of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as land-use changes and other industrial processes. It is the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas that affects the earth's temperature. It is the reference gas against which other GHGs are indexed and therefore has a Global Warming Potential of 1. The mass ratio of carbon to carbon dioxide is 12/44.
Carbon Intensity
Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy or economic output.
Carbon Sequestration
The long-term storage of carbon or carbon dioxide in the forests, soils, ocean, or underground in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, coal seams and saline aquifers. Examples include: the separation and disposal of CO2 from flue gases or processing fossil fuels to produce H2 and carbon rich fractions; and the direct removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through land-use change, afforestation, reforestation, ocean fertilization, and agricultural practices to enhance soil carbon.
Carbon Sinks
Natural or man-made systems that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store them. Trees, plants and the oceans all absorb CO2 and, therefore, are carbon sinks.
See Chlorofluorocarbons
See Methane
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Greenhouse gases covered under the 1987 Montreal Protocol used for refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging, insulation, solvents or aerosol propellants. Because they are not destroyed in the lower atmosphere, CFCs mix into the upper atmosphere where, given suitable conditions, they break down ozone. These gases are being replaced by other compounds including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which are not covered in the Kyoto Protocol (due to their inclusion in the Montreal Protocol 1992) and hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs), which are greenhouse gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol.
Climate Change
A change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability over comparable time periods. This is the definition adopted by the UNFCCC.
Climate Convention
See UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC.
Climate framework convention (UNFCCC, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was concluded at the UN Conference on the Environment and Development in June 1992 in Rio ("Global summit") and forms the basis for worldwide efforts to combat global warming. The parties participating in this climate convention are synonymous to the parties of the Kyoto Protocol. In the Kyoto Protocol, the Climate Framework Convention is simply referred to as "convention". The objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
See Carbon Dioxide
The use of waste heat from steam and or electricity generation, such as exhaust from gas turbines, for either industrial purposes or district heating.
Commitment Period
To allow Parties some flexibility in when they meet their GHG emissions reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the reduction target is applied to a 5-year period, known as the commitment period. The first commitment period will be 2008 - 12. Terms governing the nature of the second and subsequent periods are subject to future negotiation. The Kyoto Protocol calls for negotiations concerning the second period to commence by 2005.
Article 18 of the Kyoto Protocol relates to sanctions for non-compliance. Discussion of this article relates to the structure of a compliance committee, financial or other penalties for non-compliance, and whether non-compliance can only be assessed against Annex B emissions targets or other aspects of the Protocol or Convention. Any binding consequences for non-compliance can only be adopted by an amendment to the Protocol (amendments can be proposed by any Party to the Protocol, but require ratification by three-quarters of the Parties to the Protocol).
Conference of the Parties, or COP
The supreme body of the UNFCCC, comprised of countries that have ratified or acceded to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first session of the COP (COP-1) was held in Berlin in 1995 See also COP/MOP and Meeting of Parties.
The Conference of Parties of the FCCC will serve as the MOP (Meeting Of Parties, the supreme body of the Kyoto Protocol) but only Parties to the Kyoto Protocol may participate in deliberations and make decisions. Until the Protocol has now entered into, and the MOP may now meet.
Countries in transition
The countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy but that are also classified along with the EU, Japan and the U.S. as Annex I parties to the UNFCCC.
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The removal of forest stands by cutting and burning to provide land for agricultural purposes, residential or industrial building sites, roads, etc., or by harvesting the trees for building materials or fuel.
Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Defra is the UK Single National Entity.
Developing countries
Some countries have adopted the Framework Convention on Climate Change or the Kyoto Protocol but are not listed in Annex I of the Convention or Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol and thus have not accepted any reduction commitment. These so-called non-Annex I countries are countries still undergoing industrialization, i.e. countries which count as developing countries.
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The release of greenhouse gases and/or their precursors into the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time. Definition from the UNFCCC.
Emissions Trading (ET)
A market-based approach to achieving environmental objectives that allows those reducing GHG emissions below what is required to use or trade the excess reductions to offset emissions at another source inside or outside the country. In general, trading can occur at the domestic, international and intra-company levels. Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, allows Annex B countries to exchange emissions obligations. Negotiations will determine the extent to which firms and others may be allowed to participate. International emissions trading constitutes one of the Kyoto Mechanisms, designed to provide Annex B countries cost-effective flexibility in reducing emissions to achieve their agreed commitments.
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Fossil Fuels
Carbon-based fuels formed in the ground over very long periods, including coal, oil and natural gas.
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See Greenhouse Gases
Global warming potential, or GWP
A time dependent index used to compare the radiative forcing, on a mass basis, of a specific greenhouse gas relative to that of CO2. Gases included in the Kyoto Protocol are weighted in the first commitment period according to their GWP over a 100-year time horizon as published in the 1995 Second Assessment Report (SAR) of the IPCC. In that report, a kilogram of methane, for example has a radiative force 21 times greater than that of a kilogram of CO2. The GWP of CO2 is defined as 1, thus methane has a GWP of 21 over the 100-year time horizon.
Greenhouse Gases, or GHGs
Gases in the earth's atmosphere that absorb and re-emit infra-red radiation. These gases occur through both natural and human-influenced processes. The major GHG is water vapour. The Kyoto-Protocol includes the following GHGs: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, HFCs, PFCs, SF6
See Global Warming Potential
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See Hydrofluorcarbons
Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs
Among the six greenhouse gases to be controlled in the Kyoto Protocol 'basket of gases'. They are produced commercially as a substitute for Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). HFCs are largely used in refrigeration and insulating foam. Their Global Warming Potentials range from 140 to 11,700 times that of CO2, depending on the HFC.
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC
Panel established in 1988 by governments under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme. It prepares assessments, reports and guidelines on:
  • the science of climate change and its potential environmental,
  • economic and social impacts
  • technological developments
  • possible national and international responses to climate change
  • and cross-cutting issues
It provides advice to the UNFCCC's Conference of the Parties.
It is currently organized into 3 Working Groups which address:
  • Science
  • Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and
  • Mitigation
There is also a Working Group to address GHG Inventories.
Countries are required to submit regularly an inventory of their GHG emissions. The IPCC has provided guidance on how to estimate and report on anthropogenic GHG emissions and removals, using a standardized tabular reporting format for six major sectors:
  • energy
  • industrial processes
  • solvents and other product use
  • agriculture
  • land-use change and forestry, and
  • waste
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Kyoto Protocol
The Protocol, drafted during the Berlin Mandate process, that, on entry into force, would require countries listed in its Annex B (developed nations) to meet differentiated reduction targets for their emissions of a 'basket' of greenhouse gases relative to 1990 levels by 2008 - 12. It was adopted by all Parties to the Climate Convention in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997.
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Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry
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Meeting Of the Parties (to the Kyoto Protocol), or MOP
Supreme body of the Kyoto Protocol, which can only convene after the Protocol enters into force. Only the MOP can make amendments to the Protocol.
Methane, or CH4
One of the basket of six greenhouse gases to be controlled under the Kyoto Protocol, it has a relatively short atmospheric lifetime of approximately 10 years.
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National Action Plans
Plans submitted to the Conference of the Parties (COP) by all Parties outlining the steps that they have adopted to limit their anthropogenic GHG emissions. Countries must submit these plans as a condition of participating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and, subsequently, must communicate their progress to the COP regularly. The National Action Plans form part of the National Communications which include the national inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) sources and sinks.
Nitrous Oxide, or N2O
One of the basket of six greenhouse gases to be controlled under the Kyoto Protocol, it is generated by burning fossil fuels and the manufacture of fertilizer. It has a Global Warming Potential of 310 over a 100-year time horizon.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Article 5 requires each Annex I Party to have in place, no later than one year prior to the start of the first commitment period, a national inventory system. Article 7 of the Kyoto Protocol and further elaboration under COP7 stipulates the reporting of “supplementary information” including details of the Parties National Inventory System and QA/QC plans and procedures. Article 8 of the Kyoto Protocol puts in place the mechanisms for annual review that will, amongst other things, assess the existence and adequacy of the Parties national inventory system and QA/QC plan and procedures. The definition of a National System is elaborated in the Marrakech Accords, Decision 20/CP.7, UNFCCC 2001.

In addition, Article 4 of Decision 280/2004/EC stipulates that Member States shall have in place, no later than 31 December 2005, a national inventory system and associated quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) procedures as set out in the guidelines for National Systems adopted at COP7.

One of the eligibility criteria for participation in the two of the three Kyoto Protocol mechanisms (Clean Development Mechanism and International Emissions Trading) is the maintenance of a National Inventory System in accordance with Article 5, and the requirements of the guidelines mentioned above.
Non-Annex B Parties
The countries that are not included in the Annex B list of developed nations in the Kyoto Protocol.
Non-Annex I Parties
The countries that have ratified or acceded to the UNFCCC that are not included in Annex I of the Convention.
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Perfluorocarbons, or PFCs
One of the basket of the six greenhouse gases to be controlled under the Kyoto Protocol. They are a by-product of aluminium smelting. They also are the replacement for CFCs in manufacturing semiconductors.

The Global Warming Potential of PFCs ranges from 6,500 - 9,200 over a 100-year time horizon.
See Perfluorocarbons
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See Sulphur Hexafluoride
Single National Entity
The organisation with overall responsibility for the inventory. This includes: overall control of the NIS development & function, management of contracts & delivery of the UK greenhouse gas inventory, and the definition of performance criteria for NIS key organisations.
Source (UNFCCC definition)
Any process or activity which releases a greenhouse gas or a precursor GHG to the atmosphere.
Sulphur Hexafluoride, or SF6
One of the six greenhouse gases to be curbed under the Kyoto Protocol. It is largely used in heavy industry to insulate high-voltage equipment and to assist in the manufacturing of cable-cooling systems. Its Global Warming Potential is 23,900 times that of CO2.
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UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC
A treaty signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro by more than 150 countries. It’s ultimate objective is the 'stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system'. While no legally binding level of emissions is set, the treaty states an aim by Annex I countries to return these emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The treaty took effect in March 1994 upon the ratification of more than 50 countries; a total of over 180 nations have now ratified. In March 1995, the UNFCCC held the first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) the supreme body of the Convention in Berlin. Its Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.
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