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Term bank

From the term bank you can find explanations and definitions for the most frequently used terms in the Climate Watch.

Cars that use alternative fuels use energy sources other than traditional fuel oils, petrol or diesel. Alternative power sources are, for example, electricity or biogas.

Natural diversity, i.e. biodiversity, refers to the diversity of genes, species and habitats. Diversity is degrading, i.e. decreasing globally due to human activity. However, diversity is also a prerequisite for people’s survival and well-being.

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq.) is a combined figure in which the climate-warming effect of different greenhouse gas emissions is combined into a single value. Some greenhouse gases are stronger and bind more heat than others: for example, methane binds 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide. When calculating greenhouse gas emissions, all greenhouse gas emissions and their actual climate-warming effect can, however, be easily taken into account by converting them all into carbon dioxide: for example, 10 tons of methane emissions correspond to 250 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, i.e. their value is 250 t CO2-eq.

Carbon neutrality means that no more than the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be bound from the atmosphere into carbon sinks is generated from the operation. Products, companies, municipalities and states are among the things that can strive for carbon neutrality.

Carbon sinks bind more carbon dioxide than they release back into the atmosphere. The most important natural carbon sinks are the soil, forests and oceans. Carbon sinks can also be referred to as carbon storages when their position as holders of bound carbon is emphasised. Typical carbon storages are, for example, old forests.

The circular economy is an economic model in which instead of ownership and constantly producing new goods, consumption is based on using services and sharing, renting and recycling goods. Materials are not destroyed at the end of the product’s useful life, but new products are created from them again and again.

Climate change refers to the warming of the Earth's climate due to the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has multifaceted effects on the climate, weather and natural habitats. The concentration of greenhouse gases increases due to human activity. Effects of climate change that are already noticeable in Espoo include increased heavy rains, flooding and heatwaves.

Climate change adaptation means those actions that limit the harms caused by the effects of climate change, or make use of changes caused by it. Adaptation measures include preparing for heat waves and increasing the capacity of storm water systems.

Climate change mitigation means actions aimed at slowing down the progress of climate change. Mitigation measures mainly consist of reducing greenhouse gas emissions or maintaining or increasing carbon sinks.

Climate-friendly operations produce little or no greenhouse gas emissions, which accelerate climate change.

Climate risks refer to potential direct and indirect harm to human activity, livelihoods and the environment caused by climate change.

Climate-wise action mitigates climate change and adapts to it at the same time. For example, the city's green areas bind greenhouse gas emissions and thus curb climate change, and at the same time help control stormwater caused by increasing heavy rains due to climate change, as well as offering shade and cooling in times of intense heat.

Ecosystem services means the benefits that ecosystems bring to people. They are free, independent of human action and can be material or immaterial. Ecosystem services can be divided into four categories: production- (e.g. food growth), maintenance- (e.g. nutrient cycling), regulatory- (e.g. water purification) and culture services (e.g. aesthetics). Ecosystem services are categorised from the perspective of human benefit.

Energy efficiency means, as the name suggests, that energy is used more efficiently: current operations are accomplished with less energy. Energy efficiency is improved, for example in buildings, by good insulation of the property and the use of LED lamps for lighting. Improving energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and need for production, and costs.

Fossil fuels are refined from fossilised biomass from millions of years ago. Fossil fuels include coal, natural gas and fuel oils refined from crude oil, for example. Fossil fuels are non-renewable or their renewal takes at least tens of thousands of years, so their use cannot be continued indefinitely. Fossil fuels are burned, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases are gases that cause global warming when they enter the atmosphere. There are greenhouse gases in the atmosphere naturally, but human activity releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the earth’s carbon sinks can bind. In this case, their concentration in the atmosphere increases, the greenhouse effect intensifies and the climate warms. The most important greenhouse gases produced by humans are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Preparedness means preparing in advance for various changes, such as floods, heavy rains and heat caused by climate change. By preparing for extreme weather phenomena, the damage caused by them can be minimised and the ability of society, people and the environment to function during them can be ensured.

The city's procurements are services or goods that the city buys from an external operator.

Renewable energy is produced by renewable energy sources, such as sunlight, wind, flowing water or heat from the air or earth. Renewable energy sources are not used up in the same way as fossil fuels, but more are created all the time in fast and continuous natural processes.

Sustainable development means global, regional and local continuous and controlled social change, the goal of which is to secure good living opportunities for current and future generations. The areas of sustainable development are economic, ecological, social and cultural sustainability.

The vulnerability of the city’s operations refers to a situation where the city is currently unable or poorly prepared to respond to extreme weather phenomena and other changes caused by global warming.