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Greenhouse gasesGHGsGreenhouse gases are a group of gases that trap heat from solar radiation in the Earth's atmosphere. These gases act as a blanket, increasing the temperature on the surface of the Earth.
Carbon dioxideCO2One of the most common greenhouse gases.
MethaneCH4A common gaseous hydrocarbon that has a warming effect 25 times that of CO2.
Sulfur hexafluorideSF6A man-made gas used as an electrical insulator that has a warming effect 23,500 times that of CO2.
Carbon dioxide equivalentCO2eq / CO2-eq / CO2eCarbon is used as a common form of measurement for all greenhouse gases. This unit of measurement indicates the potential impact of non-CO2 gases on global warming in carbon terms.
Kilowatt hourskWhThe standard unit of measurement for energy consumption.
Power usage effectiveness PUEThe metric used to measure data center energy efficiency.
Global warming potentialGWPThe potential impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. Measured in terms of CO2e.
World Meteorological OrganizationWMOA specialized agency of the United Nations whose mandate covers weather, climate and water resources.
Million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent MMTCDEMeasurement term for CO2eq
Nationally Determined ContributionNDCThe means by which members of the Paris Climate Agreement are expected to update their progress.
Conference of the PartiesCOPAn annual event involving all parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
United Nations Framework Convention on ClimateUNFCCCA group created to achieve the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeIPCCThe objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.
Science Based Targets initiativeSBTiA body that defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting. For example, creating the standards for net zero
Carbon-free energyCFEThis term is usually used to talk about the percentage of renewable energy used as a proportion of the total energy used
Power Purchase AgreementPPAA contract you sign with a power plant to purchase RECs
Renewable Energy CreditRECRenewable energy credits (also known as renewable energy certificates) represent the energy generated by renewable energy sources
Paris Climate AgreementPCAAn international treaty agreed in 2015 by 196 parties and the UN to reduce the Earth's temperature increase
joulesJEnergy is measured in joules (J).
grams of carbon per kilowatt hourgCO2eq/kWhThe standard unit of carbon intensity is gCO2eq/kWh, or grams of carbon per kilowatt hour.
Voluntary Carbon MarketVCMA decentralized market where private actors voluntarily buy and sell carbon credits that represent certified removals or reductions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
Verified Carbon StandardVCSA standard for certifying carbon emissions reductions.
Software Carbon IntensitySCIA standard which gives an actionable approach to software designers, developers and operations to measure the carbon impacts of their systems.

Useful Terms

  • Carbon Intensity - Measures the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of electricity produced.
  • Demand Shaping - The strategy of shaping our computation to match the existing clean electricity supply.
  • Greenhouse Gas protocol - The most widely used and internationally recognized greenhouse gas accounting standard.
  • Value chain emissions - These are scope 3 emissions according to the GHG protocol, and the most significant source of emissions. They encompass the full range of activities needed to create a product or service, from conception to distribution.
  • Energy proportionality - Measures the relationship between power consumed by a computer and the rate at which useful work is done (its utilization).
  • Static power draw - This refers to how much electricity is drawn when a device is in an idle state.
  • Embodied Carbon (also known as "embedded carbon") - The amount of carbon pollution emitted during the creation and disposal of a device.