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Cap and Trade

Cap and Trade is a market-based policy tool that sets a ‘cap’ or maximum limit, on the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations that are included in the program will receive approval to produce emissions in the form of permits (allowances or carbon credits). The total number of permits provided to each organisation, for the production of greenhouse gas emissions, is limited by the cap. An organisation can determine its own strategy to meet the overall emission reduction requirements, including sale or purchase of permits, installation of pollution controls, and implementation of efficiency measures. 

Carbon (C)

Carbon (C) is the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass and is present in all known life forms. The largest sources of inorganic carbon are limestones, dolomites and carbon dioxide, and significant quantities occur in organic deposits of coal, peat (decayed vegetation), oil and methane hydrates. 

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a process that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from emission sources such as fossil fuel power plants, and transports it to a site for permanent storage, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

Carbon Credits

Carbon credits refer to the reduction or offset of one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions, which are purchased by an organisation to lower or eliminate their emission levels. There are two types of carbon credits, those that are part of a national or international trading scheme, and those that are individually purchased.

Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle describes the transfer of carbon between the atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, the earth’s interior, and sediments including fossil fuels, fresh water systems and non-living organic material. The carbon exchanges occur as the result of various chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes. The ocean contains the largest active pool of carbon near the Earth’s surface. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas found in the atmosphere. Concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased substantially as a result of human activity such as burning of coal, oil, gas, dead plant matter, and because of deforestation.

Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions refer to excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint, or carbon debt, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by an individual, organisation or nation, and is usually measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide produced annually. Factors that contribute to a carbon footprint may include transportation, electricity use, products and services purchased, and food consumption.

Carbon Leakage

In global climate change policy, carbon leakage refers to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in one country due to an emission reduction by a second country with a strict climate policy, as carbon intensive firms relocate to areas with less demanding environmental regulations.

Carbon Negative

Carbon Negative is the same as Carbon Positive and means that a business' activity emits less carbon emissions than it offsets. Usually this means that a trader will firstly seek to limit the amount of emissions a business creates in the first place and then either engage in some other activity that offsets the emissions or buy carbon credits to bring the net emission to less than zero. Creating an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Carbon Neutral

Carbon Neutral means that a business will firstly seek to limit the amount of emissions a business creates in the first place and then either engage in some other activity that offsets the emissions or buy carbon credits to bring the net emission amount back to zero. Ultimately, Carbon Neutral means that any Carbon released into the atmosphere from a company’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed.

Carbon Offset

Carbon offset is a process where an individual or organisation purchases carbon credits or pays someone else to reduce their carbon emissions.  The offset amount is calculated to equal the carbon emissions produced from a particular activity, such as driving or air travel.  Common forms of carbon offsetting include investing in renewable energy generation or planting trees.

Carbon Positive

Carbon Positive is the same as Carbon Negative and means that a business' activity emits less carbon emissions than it offsets. Usually this means that a trader will firstly seek to limit the amount of emissions a business creates in the first place and then either engage in some other activity that offsets the emissions or buy carbon credits to bring the net emission to less than zero. Creating an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in within a permanent site such as geological, ocean or mineral storage location. Bio-sequestration is the term used when this process is conducted by vegetation.

Carbon Sink

A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that collects and stores more carbon than it releases. Trees and forests represent a carbon sink because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, roots, branches and leaves. The atmosphere, oceans and soil are also considered to be carbon sinks.

Carbon Tax

A carbon tax is government tax on source goods and services, which aims to lower the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Organisations are generally charged carbon tax for carbon emissions produced from manufacturing processes.

Chemical free - Sustainability Credential

Chemical free is a sustainability credential that an trader might claim. These traders use absolutely no chemicals or artificial additives in the production of their product.

Chemical free might relate to the production of the product where it would mean 'no artificial pesticides or fertilizers'. 

If the product is a food or body product, it would mean that the product has no artificial chemicals or it has been produced without the use of artificial chemicals.

Always validate these claims. 

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are chemical compounds that contain carbon, chlorine, fluorine and sometimes hydrogen. Chlorofluorocarbons are primarily used to assist cooling in refrigerators and air conditioning systems, and have been found to damage the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the earth and all living things from excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation. CFCs are being replaced with hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are less harmful to the ozone layer.

Clean Coal

Clean coal refers to coal produced from a power station where the carbon dioxide emissions are captured and stored in some way. Clean coal technology is still being developed and refers to a collection of technologies that reduce the environmental impact of coal power production.

Clean Energy

Clean Energy refers to sources of energy that have a reduced environmental impact, such as renewable energy sources.

Clean Energy Council

The Clean Energy Council is a not-for-profit association based in Melbourne, and represents a number of clean energy and energy efficiency industries.  It plays a primary role in developing and advocating policy and promoting awareness of the industry through conferences, events and newsletters.

Clean Energy Regulator

The Clean Energy Regulator is the Government body responsible for administering legislation that will reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of clean energy. The Clean Energy Regulator administers the Carbon Pricing Mechanism, the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, the Carbon Farming Initiative and the Renewable Energy Target.

Clean Fuel

Clean fuel refers to fuel which burns cleaner and produces fewer harmful emissions compared to ordinary gasoline and diesel. Clean fuel blends include compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and liquified petroleum gas (LPG).

Climate Change

Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate such as temperature, rainfall, or wind lasting for an extended period (decades or longer) as a result of global warming. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur globally.

Climate System

The term climate system refers to the five physical components that are responsible for the climate and its variations.  These include the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.

Closed Loop Production

Closed Loop Production  Self Certified is a sustainability standard that an trader might claim. 

Closed Loop Production products and their components are designed, manufactured, used and handled so as to live for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum adverse environmental impacts, minimum waste generation, and with the most efficient use of water, energy and other resources throughout their life cycles. 

CO2 Equivalent (CO2-e)

CO2 Equivalent (CO2-e) stands for carbon dioxide equivalent.  This term refers to the comparison of various greenhouse gases with regards to their contribution to global warming.

Coal Seam Gas

Coal seam gas is a form of natural gas that is extracted from coal beds. In recent decades, coal seam gas has become an important energy source in the United States, Canada, and other nations. Australia is rich in coal seam gas deposits.

Community share - Sustainability Credential

Community share is a sustainability credential that an Across the Fence trader might claim. Traders who facilitate community sharing help lessen the burden on resources by allowing an item or space to be shared among multiple users.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community supported agriculture refers to a network of consumers in a locality that agree to purchase produce (often organic) from local farmers to guarantee a local market, reduce food miles and allow for fresh produce to be purchased at lower prices.


Compost refers to the dark, humus material that is produced as a result of the composting process. This process involves bacteria in the soil assisting plant matter and organic food material to decompose into organic fertiliser.


Something which is compostable is typically garden or food waste which biodegrades into compost (natural elements) over a period of weeks or months. The resulting material is non toxic,  nutrient rich and can readily be used to grow new plants or enrich existing plants. 

To be compostable, a material must meet specific timeframes, conditions and resultant material makeup. To be specific, the Australian standard AS 4736-2006 requires that, “The material must compost to no more than 10% of its original dry weight retained on a 2 mm sieve within 12 weeks. The resulting compost must have no toxic effect on plants or earthworms.”

Compostable is different to biodegradable.

Composting - Sustainability Credential traders who claim the composting credential compost, recycle all their food and organic waste so it can be turned into organic matter which can in turn be used in the garden. Most traders who compost use their own compost in their own gardens, but some deliver compost to commercial collectors.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is an alternative fuel for motor vehicles, and is considered to be one of the cleanest because of its low hydrocarbon emissions and non-ozone producing vapours.

Conservation - Planet - Sustainability Standard

See Planet Conservation - Sustainability Standard

Conservation Biology

Conservation biology refers to the scientific study of nature, ecosystems and the earth's state of biodiversity. This field of study aims to protect plant and animal species, resources and habitats from extinction.

Conservation Commitment (Global) - Sustainability Credential traders displaying the global conservation commitment credential sell products that offer alternatives to products that typically impact global forests. This impact includes deforestation for timber harvesting or deforestation to grow plantations such as palm oil.


Contamination refers to any substance that is located in an environment where it does not belong. The term also applies to any substance that is found naturally in a particular location, with levels that are higher than normal, causing harm to living organisms.

Contraction and Convergence

Contraction and convergence is a global sustainability proposal in which wealthy countries agree to reduce their carbon emissions and resource consumption, while poorer countries are permitted to increase their emissions and material use, until all nations achieve a sustainable and equitable level of emissions, resource use, etc.

Conversion Technology

Conversion technology refers to any technology that converts organic waste materials into valuable products such as electricity, alternative fuels, or solvents.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility refers to an organisation integrating and supporting social and environmental actions within their internal operations and interactions with employees, stakeholders, and the broader community.

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization that oversees the Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) Products Program worldwide. The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ mark provides consumers, regulators, employees, and industry peers with a clear, visible, and tangible validation of a manufacturer’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and to their communities. In 2010, founders, William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart gifted the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard, which provides designers and manufacturers with criteria and requirements for continually improving what products are made of and how they are made. We are on a mission to educate and empower manufacturers of consumer products to become a positive force for society and the environment, helping to bring about a new industrial revolution. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is governed by an independent board of directors, led by Lewis Perkins, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with an office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For more information:


The cradle-to-cradle or ‘closed-loop’ concept aims to design products so that every element of the product can be used to make another product at end of its lifetime. This differs to the cradle-to-grave concept, which refers to the whole of a product's lifecycle including extraction, processing, manufacture, transportation, use and disposal.