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Carbon

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  • White column provides low carbon energy and artistic allure
    Manchester has a new low-carbon energy center that will supply heat and power to several buildings throughout the region. The architectural and functional design of the structure is a result of 10 years of innovative material and geometric research by...
  • Carbon credits a fraud, Australian whistleblower says
    According to a whistleblower, the Australian government has wasted over $1 billion of taxpayer money on the carbon credits system. Professor Andrew Macintosh, former head of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, spent years working on the integrity...

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Carbon Accounting

Umbrella term referring to the act of measuring and reporting on an organization's greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon accounting procedures typically aim to measure and report on the emissions that a company is directly responsible for, but they can also track emissions that result from a firm's supply chain and the activities of its partners, customers and staff.

The practice is widely regarded as an essential first step towards cutting carbon emissions.

However, critics have argued that its effectiveness is undermined by an absence of international standards, which means that carbon calculations can be undertaken differently from organization to organization.

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Carbon Based Lifeform

This is a form of life which uses carbon as a 'building block' in its cells and chemical processes. Basically all life (be it plant or animal) on Earth is 'carbon based' in one form or another.

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Carbon Black

An amorphous form of carbon, produced commercially by thermal or oxidative decomposition of hydrocarbons and used principally in rubber goods, pigments, and printer's ink.

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Carbon Capture And Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an approach to mitigating global warming based on capturing carbon dioxide from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants and permanently storing it away from the atmosphere.

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Carbon Credit

A carbon credit is a market-driven way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions; it allows an agent to benefit financially from an emission reduction. There are two forms of carbon credit, those that are part of national and international trade and those that are purchased by individuals.


Carbon Credits have a rather mixed history, as given the nature of the 'arms length' relationship between the producer of the carbon credit and the consumer of the credit; it's often difficult to ensure a consistent 'carbon value' to a given credit as there is no globally unified method of certification and validation of what exactly is a carbon credit. Further political interference in the market to encourage take up of carbon reducing technologies (like Solar Panels) can devalue credits in market - making it less attractive to trade with. Also carbon credits can be held 'off market' so artificially controlling supply. 

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Carbon Cycle

All parts (reservoirs) and fluxes of carbon. The cycle is usually thought of as four main reservoirs of carbon interconnected by pathways of exchange. The reservoirs are the atmosphere, terrestrial biosphere (usually includes freshwater systems), oceans, and sediments (includes fossil fuels). The annual movements of carbon, the carbon exchanges between reservoirs, occur because of various chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes. The ocean contains the largest pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth, but most of that pool is not involved with rapid exchange with the atmosphere.

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Carbon Dioxide Equivalent

A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

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Carbon Dioxide Fertilization

The enhancement of the growth of plants as a result of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. Depending on their mechanism of photosynthesis, certain types of plants are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

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Carbon Flux

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Carbon Footprint

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Carbon Fraud

Carbon Fraud is an aspect of global carbon markets.

Basically due to weak certification and validation processes in carbon markets, it is often quite easy to operate a 'fake' carbon offsetting business; i.e. claiming to run an offshore forest preservation scheme generating carbon credits when no such thing exists in reality (i.e. just pocket the money).

Also, due to the difficult nature of assessing exactly how much carbon some scheme or process offsets, you can also get fraud through over estimating the amount of carbon offset.

It is understood in some regions that organized crime has got involved in carbon markets, and that some markets have had to be suspended to investigate systematic fraud.

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Carbon Intensity

The relative amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy or fuels consumed

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  • Carbon intensity of power sector down in 2019
    Engineers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation have compiled carbon emissions for the U.S. electric power sector for the second quarter (Q2) of 2019 as part of the CMU Power Sector Carbon Index. The index tracks...
  • China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early
    Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate official, has reported that the country has met its 2020 carbon intensity target three years earlier than expected. China's carbon intensity, as measured by the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of economic growth,...
  • Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of California Low Carbon Fuel Standard
    Last week, Judge Lawrence O’Neill of the U.S. District Court in Fresno issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), a regulation requiring a 10% reduction in the carbon content of motor...
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Carbon Leakage

The theory that policy measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions in one country or region will result in an increase in emissions in another country as carbon intensive firms relocate to areas with less demanding environmental regulations.

For example, it is feared that steel plants and other heavy industries faced with planned carbon pricing regulations in the US may move their operations to countries such as China or India that do not have carbon pricing schemes in an attempt to avoid increased costs.

As a result, carbon emissions could simply "leak" from one country to another, resulting in no net reduction in emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme have both been accused of causing carbon leakage, although there is little solid evidence as yet of firms relocating solely as a result of carbon regulations.

One of the primary drivers for a global agreement to tackle climate change is the hope that an international deal would remove the risk of carbon leakage by establishing comparable carbon regulations for all countries.

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Carbon Market

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Carbon Monoxide

A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion.

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Carbon Neutral

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Carbon Offset

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Carbon Pollution

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Carbon Pool

The reservoir containing carbon as a principal element in the geochemical cycle.

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Carbon Rationing

Limiting the amount of carbon you use each year.

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Carbon Sequestration

The uptake and storage of carbon. Trees and plants, for example, absorb carbon dioxide, release the oxygen and store the carbon. Fossil fuels were at one time biomass and continue to store the carbon until burned.

Carbon sequestration is usually a natural process although machine based techniques can be used to extract or prevent carbon from getting into the atmosphere and put it into long term storage.

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Carbon Sinks

Carbon reservoirs and conditions that take in and store more carbon (carbon sequestration) than they release. Carbon sinks can serve to partially offset greenhouse gas emissions. Forests and oceans are common carbon sinks.

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Carbon Tax

A Carbon Tax is a government imposed taxation on source goods and services in an attempt to reduce the production of carbon into the atmosphere.

Usually implemented as a form of 'at source' taxation; i.e. those whom manufacturer or consume the most carbon pay and everybody else on the supply chain picks up the price increase. This is often encountered with a carbon credit scheme, by which carbon producers can 'offset' their taxable carbon emissions against less carbon intense production methods.

As always with such schemes, the devil is in the detail; in particular there has been problems in the past with carbon fraud.

Note: This equally applies to the energy production sector as basic manufacturing; say if coal is being used as a source of electrical power.

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Carbon Tetrachloride

A compound consisting of one carbon atom and four chlorine atoms. It is an ozone depleting substance. Carbon tetrachloride was widely used as a raw material in many industrial applications, including the production of chlorofluorocarbons, and as a solvent.

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Carbon Trading

The sale and purchase of carbon credits or pollution permits through carbon markets.

The practice is designed to help control carbon dioxide emissions by placing a price on a ton of emitted CO2 and providing members of trading schemes with economic incentives to reduce the amount of pollution they produce.

The market is dominated by cap-and-trade schemes, such as the EU's emissions trading scheme, but carbon trading can also refer to the sale of carbon offsets from emission reduction projects.

In theory, carbon trading mechanisms mean that emission reductions are achieved at the lowest possible cost, as businesses will only purchase carbon credits - effectively paying someone else to cut emissions for them - if they can not deliver emission reductions at a lower cost themselves.

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A free Android app containing all these definitions is now available, called the Green Dictionary. Click here to see the entry on the Android market; or click here if on an Android phone.