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Glossary of climate change terms

A to G

acid rain
Pollution emitted by power stations, factory emissions and motor vehicles mixed with rain or other precipitation. When mixed with rain, the acidity of this pollution destroys forests, eats away buildings and poisons water and soil.

air pollution
Chemical, biological or particulate matter that changes the characteristics of the atmosphere. Two examples of very harmful air pollution are car exhausts emitting carbon monoxide and coal burning producing sulphur dioxide.

The mixture of gases surrounding the Earth, any star or planet.

Any action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. Abatement acts on a global level over long time scales, slowing the rate of climate change and delaying or deferring the date of impact and its magnitude. While we may contribute only a very small amount to global emissions, as good global citizen we must take responsibility for our own emission and work to reduce them.

Any action to respond to the anticipated or actual conditions related to climate change. Such strategies can reduce our vulnerability to change in climate at the local and regional level and over short time scales. They allow communities to develop a capacity to avoid or minimize the negative effect of climate change.

Bureau of Meteorology (Australian Government)

Carbon Dioxide
A colourless odourless gas formed by the CO2 burning of carbon or breathed out by animals in respiration. The burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) to create electricity and produce fuel for transport is increasing the
amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

carbon neutral
Being carbon neutral means that you produce no net emissions of carbon dioxide.

carbon trading
The buying and selling of permits allowing people to emit set amounts of carbon in the atmosphere.



Chlorofluoro- carbons(CFCs)
Chemical compounds which have no natural source: they are produced entirely by human activity. Even though CFC production has been vastly reduced (previously used in aerosol cans and refrigerators), they will remain in the atmosphere for a long time.

The long-term average weather pattern of a region.

climate change
Changes to the climate systems as a result of global warming.

direct impact
Something that has a direct and instant impact on the earth e.g. bushfires, Chernobyl.

The power which lets people and machines move, or provides light and heat.

Sending gases out into the atmosphere.

emission target
Limitations to reduce the release of air-borne substances.

emission trading
Under an emissions trading scheme, limits (or caps) are set on the amount of a pollutant (greenhouse gas) that can be emitted. Companies or groups are given credits that represent the right to emit a specific amount. (Linked to carbon trading)

enhanced greenhouse effect
The increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activity.

fugitive emissions
Emissions from transporting energy from generators to customers (e.g. through powerlines).

A gas is one of the states of matter, consisting of particles well spaced and moving randomly and rapidly in all directions.

greenhouse gases
Gases that trap heat close to the Earth’s surface. There are around 30 greenhouse gases, of which CO2 is the most important.

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