Climate Glossary

Climate Glossary


An era that began when humans became the dominant influence on the climate and the environment. 

Big Oil

Also called supermajors, are the 6-7 largest publicly traded oil and gas companies (BP, Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and ConocoPhillips). 

Carbon Footprint

The amount of greenhouse gases that each human or organization releases into the atmosphere. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

A colorless, odorless gas found in the atmosphere that is a key greenhouse gas driving global climate change.

Carbon Neutral

Achieving a zero carbon footprint.

Climate Migrants

Also called climate refugees or environmental migrants, are people who are forced to leave their homes due to sudden or progressive changes in the environment 


A fuel refined from crude oil commonly used in the transportation industry. Diesel is heavier and oilier than gasoline because it is less refined and evaporates slower - it's boiling point is higher than water. 

Environmental Racism

The disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. 

Fluorinated Gases (F-gases)

The most potent and longest lasting man-made gases produced by aluminum, magnesium and semiconductor manufacturers. 

Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)

A type of drilling where water, sand and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to crack open rock layers to extract oil or natural gas stuck inside.  

Fuel Oil

Also known as heavy oil, marine fuel or furnace oil, are the heaviest fractions or residues of crude oil. Fuel oil burns cleaner than heating oil, and is mostly used outdoors in power plants and ships engines.


Any technology that can stop or reverse climate change (ex: carbon capture).

Green Bond

A financial tool that funds projects with a positive environmental and/or climate benefit. 

Greenhouse Gases

Gases that are released into the air by burning fossil fuels. These gases absorb solar energy and trap heat close to the Earth's surface instead of letting the gases escape into space. 

Greenhouse Effect

The warming of the Earth’s surface caused by conversion of solar radiation into heat. 

Heat Pump

Extracts the heat from its environment (groundwater, the ground or the air) to provide heat and hot water in an environmentally friendly, economical and efficient way.

Heating Oil

A heavier and more refined oil and provides longer-lasting and more heat than fuel oil. Heating oil is mostly used indoors as it can turn into a gel if kept outdoors in cool temperatures. 

Ice Cores

Ice sheets and glaciers formed from years of accumulating snowfall that show what our planet was like hundreds of thousands of years ago. Ice cores help make predictions about future climate change. 


When a vehicle's engine is running but not moving causing an unnecessary release of contaminants into the air. 

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

A flammable mixture of propane and butane that is used as a fuel to heat appliances and vehicles. LPG is a basic raw material for the petrochemical industry.

Methane (CH4)

A colorless, odorless, and highly flammable gas that is used to heat homes and generate electricity. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases because of its efficient ability to absorb heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Nitrous Oxide (N20)

A gas that comes from agriculture, in particular fertilized soil and animal waste, that is deeply connected to the food production industry. It is a potent greenhouse gas that can live in the atmosphere for ~114 years and is 300x more potent than carbon dioxide.(1) 


Also called petroleum distillates, are chemical products that comes from petroleum. 


Also called crude oil, is a fossil fuel and nonrenewable energy source. Its carbon-rich substance is used to produce fuels (ie. gasoline, kerosene and diesel oil) and non-fuels (ie. plastics, synthetic fibers and resins).  

Planned Obsolesce

A product with an artificially limited useful life that becomes obsolete after a certain time period.  

Sustainable Development

A development that meets our present needs without compromising future generations to meet their needs. 







(1)What Is Nitrous Oxide and Why Is It a Climate Threat? InsideClimate News.