Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations

Abbreviations/ Acronyms


Explanation (if necessary)


Agriculture, land-use, land-use change, and forestry

For the purposes of compiling a greenhouse gas inventory


Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC



A greenhouse gas


Carbon dioxide

A greenhouse gas


Carbon dioxide equivalent

A measure used to compare non-CO2 gases with CO2 based on their global warming potential (GWP - see below)


European Commission


European Commission Joint Research Centre


El NiƱo Southern Oscillation


Emissions trading scheme


Greenhouse gas

Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect (IPCC, 2007).



Explanation (if necessary)


Global Warming Potential

An estimate of the effectiveness of a gas in trapping heat in the atmosphere relative to CO2 over a specific time horizon. Methane has a GWP of 25 over 100 years, and nitrous oxide 298.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Marginal abatement cost curve


Nitrous Oxide

A greenhouse gas


Social cost of carbon


Special Report on Emissions Scenarios


Shadow price of carbon


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC, 2007)

The term is used in two literal senses: "adaptation" as a general process (of change); and "an adaptation" as a specific outcome of that process.

Adaptive capacity

The ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including variability and extremes), to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences (IPCC, 2007)

Annex I country

Industrialised countries (in the context of the Kyoto Protocol)

Anticipatory adaptation

Adaptation that takes place before the impacts of climate change are observed

Autonomous adaptation

Does not constitute a conscious response to climatic stimuli but is triggered by ecological changes in natural systems or by market or welfare changes in human systems.



Explanation (if necessary)

Climate change

Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land-use (IPCC, 2007).


Policies and action to reduce the sources of (or enhance the sinks for) greenhouse gases. Also known as "abatement".

E.g. reduction of emissions from agriculture, fuel efficiency, carbon markets, reforestation, alternative energy sources.

Planned adaptation

Adaptation that is the result of a deliberate (usually policy) decision, based on an awareness that conditions have changed or about to change and that action is required to return to, maintain, or achieve a desired state.

Probabilistic scenarios

The production of large ensembles of climate change scenarios enables the production of probability density functions to represent the range of projected change in a specific event.

Specific probabilities may be assigned to individual events or climate change impacts by incorporating model uncertainties within a large model ensemble.


The degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude and rate of climate change, and variation in which a system is exposed, and its sensitivity and its adaptive capacity.

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