Resources & Glossary

This page contains some key resources that may be useful to readers of the Law & Climate Atlas, as well as a glossary of relevant terminology. Please do not hesitate to contact us at climate@hughes.cam.ac.uk if you would like to suggest additions to either of these lists.

Further resources

General climate resources

Law and climate resources

Glossary

TermDefinition
AdaptationEfforts taken to adjust in response to climate change impacts, in contrast to mitigation.
Attribution ScienceA way of linking climate change to weather impacts, which is now being used to show causation in climate litigation.
Biodiversity LossThe decline in the variety of different species of life, a problem with significant human impacts that is linked to, but distinct from, climate change.
Carbon Border Adjustment MechanismA tariff applied on imports based on the greenhouse gas emissions caused by their production.
Carbon LevyA tax levied on fuels that emit greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon OffsettingSchemes by which companies can offset their carbon footprint through investment in green projects that help reduce carbon emissions. This is done through the purchase of carbon credits, which each represent the removal of one tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Carbon PricingMeasures, such as carbon taxes and emissions trading systems, that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions in order to disincentivise them.
CCCThe Climate Change Committee, the UK’s independent advisory body on climate change established under the Climate Change Act.
Climate Change Act 2008The central piece of legislation for UK climate policy. It sets out the UK’s emissions reduction targets and a number of requirements to hold the government accountable to that target.
Climate DisclosureDocuments that organisations such as companies, banks and institutions publish about their carbon footprint and exposures to climate risks, according to a range of climate-related reporting requirements.
Climate FinanceFunding and investment related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Climate LitigationA broad term referring to cases where climate change is the central issue.
COPConference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreements on Climate Change – a yearly meeting where world leaders and negotiators reach agreements on climate change.
Corporate GovernanceThe mechanisms and processes by which corporations are controlled and operated.
DecarbonisationThe removal or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from human activity, with the eventual goal of eliminating them.
Emissions TradingPolicies where entities must retire ‘allowances’ to emit greenhouse gases, and can buy or sell allowances from other entities in the emissions trading system.
Environment Act 2021The UK’s framework piece of environmental legislation implemented post-Brexit.
ESGA business’s environmental, social, and corporate governance. Often used by investors to consider the impact of their investments.
Green TaxonomyA regulatory list of activities or products that can be labelled as ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, or similar, now being used in the context of sustainable investing.
Greenhouse GasGases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, that contribute to the global rise in temperatures.
Greenhouse Gas RemovalMethods, both natural and technical, that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
GreenwashingWhen an organisation purports to have a more positive impact on the environment than it actually does.
IPCCThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a UN scientific advisory body that produces authoritative reports on climate change.
ISSBInternational Sustainability Standards Board – board of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation which has set global sustainability disclosure standards: IFRS S1 and IFRS S2.
Just TransitionA global response to climate change that improves social and economic conditions and does not exacerbate inequalities.
Kyoto ProtocolAn international treaty under the UNFCCC signed in 1997 that committed its parties to greenhouse gas emission reductions, later succeeded by the Paris Agreement.
Loss and DamageThe concept that highly developed countries, which tend to be the largest historical emitters, should compensate developing countries that are often facing the worst climate impacts.  
MitigationActivities taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid climate change, in contrast to adaptation.
Natural CapitalA term to describe natural assets and the value that they bring to humanity.
Nature-based SolutionsSustainable management and use of natural ecosystems to address socio-environmental challenges.
NDCNationally Determined Contribution – each signatory to the Paris Agreement’s commitment to reduce their emissions.
Net ZeroWhen the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to the volume of greenhouse gases being sequestered from the atmosphere.
Paris AgreementA 2015 agreement under the UNFCCC which compels parties must communicate their NDCs and establishes mechanisms to help with climate cooperation.
Physical RisksRisks posed by the physical impacts of climate change (e.g. rising temperatures and extreme weather events).
Scope 1 EmissionsThe greenhouse gases emitted directly by an entity (e.g. those from industrial operations).
Scope 2 EmissionsThe indirect emissions of an entity, often associated with those produced from purchased energy.
Scope 3 EmissionsAll emissions across an entity’s value chain, including upstream and downstream emissions.
SDGsSustainable Development Goals – 17 interlinked sustainability objectives adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.
Sustainable DevelopmentA goal relevant to international climate action, traditionally defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
TCFDThe Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which sets disclosure and reporting rules for organisations that are now becoming mandatory in some jurisdictions.
TNFDThe Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures, which outlines disclosure recommendations for organisations to report on nature-related risks, dependencies, and opportunities.
Transition RisksRisks posed by society’s response to climate change, for example market changes and policy mechanisms.
UNFCCCThe United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.