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Environmental politics & policy -

Basic glossary



Agenda 21

  • "Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment."

  • See also Earth summit, Local Agenda 21

Contraction and Convergence

  • A possible greenhouse gas abatement methodology, devised by the global commons institute

  • The "Contraction" proposes a global greenhouse gas 'budget' which is "consistent with an outcome of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere of 450 parts per million by volume (ppmv) by the year 2100". emissions will be progressively reduced to meet the budget

  • The "Convergence" proposes that the greenhouse gas budget will eventaully be distributed globally equally on a per capita basis.

  • So in practice, western countries would start reducing emissions straightaway, but many third world countries would actually increase their emissions, before reeaching the global equitable level


CSR - Corporate social responsibility

  • Usage is usually of the form "we have a CSR department" or "I'm looking for work in CSR"

Earth summit

  • The United Nations conference on envrionment and development, held in Rio de janeiro in 1992. Often referred to just as "rio", or "rio summit" etc.

  • "The two-week Earth Summit was the climax of a process, begun in December 1989, of planning, education and negotiations among all Member States of the United Nations, leading to the adoption of Agenda 21, a wide-ranging blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development worldwide. At its close, Maurice Strong, the Conference Secretary-General, called the Summit a "historic moment for humanity".

IPCC - intergovernmental panel on climate change

  • "The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). ... [it] was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change"

  • Its function is collating and reporting - it does not do original research.

Kyoto Protocol

  • "an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change... it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012."

  • "The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so."

  • "... adopted on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. 180 nations have ratified the treaty to date. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.”"

  • "Under the Treaty, countries must meet their targets primarily through national measures. However, the Kyoto Protocol offers them an additional means of meeting their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms:

    • Emissions trading
    • the clean development mechanism (CDM)
    • joint implementation (JI)

Local agenda 21 aka "LA21"

  • "two thirds of the 2500 action items of Agenda 21 relate to local councils. Each local authority has had to draw up its own Local Agenda 21 strategy following discussion with its citizens about what they think is important for the area."

Millenium Ecosystem assessment

  • "The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. Initiated in 2001, the objective of the MA was to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems and their contribution to human well-being."

  • "The bottom line of the MA findings is that:
    • human actions are depleting Earth's natural capital
    • putting such strain on the environment...
    • ...that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. "

  • "[But] the assessment shows that with appropriate actions:
    • it is possible to reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next 50 years,
    • but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial ...
    • ... and not currently underway."

RCEP - Royal commission on environmental pollution

  • "The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is an independent standing body established in 1970 to advise the Queen, the Government, Parliament and the public on environmental issues"

SDC - Sustainable development commission

  • "The Sustainable Development Commission is the Government's independent watchdog on sustainable development"

UKCIP - UK Climate Impacts Programme

"The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) was established in 1997 to help co-ordinate scientific research into the impacts of climate change, and to help organisations adapt to those unavoidable impacts. The majority of UKCIP’s funding is from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UKCIP is based at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University."

UNFCCC - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • "Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty -- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -- to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable"

  • "More recently, a number of nations have approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures."

UNEP - united nations environment programme


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