BECCS: Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. An experimental method of energy generation and technological carbon dioxide removal. BECCS entails burning biomass for energy, capturing the CO2 emissions, storing the emissions long-term, and successfully re-growing any used biomass to result in a process that stores more carbon than it releases. BECCS relies on the success of emerging technologies and availability of sustainable sources of biomass.
biochar: A form of charcoal produced from plant matter and added to soil as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and adding nutrients for growing plants. Biochar operations would need to be scaled massively from current levels and steps taken to ensure biochar permanently stores carbon in the ground for it to make a significant impact on global CO2.
biomass: Organic (carbon-based) material that comes from living organisms such as plants and can be used as fuel. Examples include wood, corn, or crop residues such as the stalks left after harvesting.
carbon intensity: The amount of carbon dioxide emitted per amount of energy. E.g. grams of CO2 emitted per megajoule of energy produced. Coal has the highest carbon intensity of the fossil fuels, followed by oil, then natural gas.
CCS: Carbon capture and storage. A process where CO2 emissions, say from fossil fuel energy generation, are captured at the source and then stored in a location where the carbon will not leak into the atmosphere, such as deep underground. CCS technology is not yet commercially viable in most settings.
climate change: Refers to any long-term changes in Earth's weather patterns (rain, temperature, sunshine, storms, etc.) Scientists have been studying changes in the Earth’s climate over millions of years, and the data show that the weather patterns have been changing dramatically recently.
climate change adaptation: Changes made by people or plants and animals in the way things are usually done in order to respond or react to change in climate. For example, seawalls and levees are being built in many low-lying coastal cities to keep out rising tides and increased storm surge as a result of climate change.
C-ROADS: Climate-Rapid Overview and Decision Support simulator created by Climate Interactive. Focuses on specific emission reduction pledges from different countries and world regions (e.g., to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement).
direct air capture (DAC): An experimental method of technological carbon dioxide removal where CO2 is captured from the air with machines and stored permanently (e.g. underground). DAC is a new industrial process that is still in development. To get a net removal benefit, the captured carbon must be stored long-term and the DAC facility must be powered by low-carbon energy.
equity: A way of creating the conditions that enable a just and fair inclusion of everyone into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. (Definition courtesy of the Partnership for Southern Equity).
F-gases: Fluorinated gases. Synthetic (created by humans) gases that are used in industrial applications (like refrigeration and manufacturing microchips) and are powerful greenhouse gases. Include HFCs, PFCs, and SF6.
final energy consumption: Total energy consumed to meet the demand of all final end uses. For example, how much electricity a lightbulb uses or how much fuel a truck burns are measures of final energy consumption. It does not include energy lost through transmission and distribution (T&D) or inefficiencies, which, in contrast, is accounted for in primary energy demand.
greenhouse gas: Any gas that absorbs radiation (heat energy) from the Earth’s surface and thus traps heat and makes the planet warmer. Anthropogenic (caused by human activity) greenhouse gases include CO2, CH4, N2O, and F-gases.
IAM: Integrated Assessment Model. A type of computer model that links economic activities with biological and geophysical dynamics to better understand how people can affect things like climate change.
joule: A measure of energy. Lifting an apple one meter takes about 1 joule of energy, and a liter of gasoline contains 31,536,000 joules of energy (source).
Kaya graphs: Show the drivers of growth in carbon dioxide emissions. Yoichi Kaya created the equation behind the graphs: Global Population x GDP per Capita x Energy Intensity of GDP x Carbon Intensity of Energy = CO2 Emissions from Energy.
MCF: Thousand cubic feet. A unit for measuring the volume of natural gas, often used for energy measurements. Burning a thousand cubic feet of natural gas generates approximately 1.1 GJ of energy. The “M” in “MCF” is the Roman numeral for thousand.
Paris Agreement: International treaty signed in 2015 by 196 countries with the aim of limiting global warming “to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
PM2.5: Particulate matter (tiny particles that can be inhaled) in the air of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter. This is a category of air pollution that is associated with significant health impacts and is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide each year.
primary energy demand: Primary energy refers to the total energy from a raw energy source that is converted into consumable energy. For example, primary oil energy demand refers to the total amount of energy of crude oil that is then extracted, refined, and consumed. Primary energy is greater than final energy consumption because it accounts for inefficiencies in fuel processing, thermal conversion, and transmission and distribution (T&D).
progress ratio: The relative amount of cost reduction per doubling of cumulative production of a technology. In the case of renewable energy, the progress ratio is thought to be 20%, i.e. for every doubling of production, costs decrease by 20%. Costs come down as supply chains, business models, and production industries grow. Also known as the learning effect or learning/experience curve.
radiative forcing (RF): The difference between energy absorbed by the Earth and energy radiated back into space. Incoming energy minus outgoing energy. When incoming energy is greater than outgoing energy, RF is positive and the planet will warm. Measured in W/m2.
SSPs: Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. A set of five narratives about future social, political and economic conditions in the world that are used to create and compare climate scenarios. Learn more.
thorium: A chemical element that can be used as fuel for nuclear fission, similar to uranium. Thorium fission is an experimental technology that has yet to be used in a large-scale nuclear reactor. Its use at a large scale could be modeled in En-ROADS using the New Zero-Carbon slider.