1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Air pollutant

Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentrations, harm humans, animals, vegetation or material.


The departure of an element from its long-period average value for the location concerned. For example, if the maximum temperature for June in Melbourne was 1 degree Celsius higher than the long-term average for this month, the anomaly would be +1 degrees Celsius. The current international standard is to use the 30 year average from 1961 to 1990 as the long-term average.


The fibrous residue of the sugar cane milling process that is used as a fuel (to raise steam) in sugar mills.


Biomass is plant material, vegetation or agricultural waste used as a fuel or energy source. Biomass can also be processed to produce liquid biofuels (biodiesel) or a gas biofuel (biogas).

Carbon dioxide equivalents

Provides the basis for comparing the warming effect of different greenhouse gases. Different greenhouse gases have different effects and remain in the atmosphere for different periods of time. A tonne of methane, for example, contributes as much to global warming as 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide and thus has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 21, compared to carbon dioxide's GWP of 1. Each gas has a GWP so that each can be converted to a common CO2 equivalent (CO2-e). This enables emissions of different greenhouse gases to be compared and aggregated by converting them to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e).
Carbon sequestration

The uptake and storage of carbon.

Carbon sink
A pool (reservoir) that absorbs released carbon from another part of the carbon cycle.

Climate Change

A change in the weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average (for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole earth. In recent usage, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate, and is often referred to as global warming.


Also known as burning, it is a process where a fuel is combined with oxygen, releasing energy, usually in the form of heat and/or light, and waste in the form of smoke and ash.

CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)

Synthetic products, which do not occur naturally and contain chlorine and fluorine; commonly used in various industrial processes and as refrigerants and, prior to 1990, as a propellant gas for sprays; deplete ozone in the stratosphere and are powerful greenhouse gases.


The deliberate human removal of forest cover and replacement with pasture, crops or other uses on land that was forest.


The heat or power that is generated by the burning of fuels.


A substance burned as a source of heat or power.

Fugitive emissions

These are greenhouse gas emissions formed as a by-product, waste or loss in the process of fuel production storage or transport, such as leakage from pipelines.

Global warming

The increase in the average temperature of the earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century.

Greenhouse gases

A collective term for those gases which reduce the loss of heat from the earth's atmosphere and thus contribute to global warming and climate change. Examples of greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, atmospheric methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).


GreenPower is a national accreditation program for renewable electricity products sourced from solar, wind, hydro, biomass, wave energy and landfill gas power.

GreenPower customers

Household or business who have opted to pay a premium to an energy provider for electricity generated from clean, renewable energy sources (such as solar, wind power, new hydro on existing dams, biomass, wave energy and landfill gas). The energy generators must be government accredited through the GreenPower program. The extra amount paid in addition to the electricity account is invested in the renewable energy sector.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

A measure of the overall value of economic production in Australian in a given period. The volume measure of GDP (chain volume takes out the impact of changes in prices) is an indicator of real growth in Australian economic activity.


Hydroelectricity or hydro-electric power is electricity produced from the energy of falling water using dams, turbines and generators.

Kyoto Protocol

A protocol adopted by the supreme body of the UNFCCC in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, committing signatories to limit or reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels. The Kyoto protocol deals with carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, sulphur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons. Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and in doing so, committed Australia to stabilise its emissions during 2008-2012 to no more than 108% of its 1990 level.

National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM)

The NEPM one-day standard for PM10 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre with a maximum allowable exceedence of five days a year.

The NEPM standard for ozone measured over a four-hour period is 0.08 ppm (parts per million), allowed on one day a year.

Non-renewable fuels

A fuel which cannot be produced, re-grown, regenerated, or reused on a scale which can sustain its consumption rate. Fuels derived from fossil sources (coal, oil, Natural gas) or minerals (nuclear fuels) are non-renewable because they exist in a fixed amount, or are consumed much faster than nature can recreate them.

Ozone depletion

The process whereby the natural equilibrium between chemical reactions forming and destroying stratospheric ozone is disturbed by the release of manufactured chemicals.

Ozone Depleting Potential Tonnes (ODPT)

Estimates of Australia's total consumption of ozone depleting substances, weighted according to the ozone depleting potential of each, are presented as ozone depleting potential tonnes (ODPTs). ODPTs are an aggregated scale of measurement which allows the addition of quantities of different gases and then weights them according to the amount of ozone each could potentially deplete.


Microscopic or submicroscopic solid or liquid matter, such as soot, dust or smoke.

Photochemical smog

Air pollution caused by chemical reactions among various substances and pollutants in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

Primary energy

Energy that is generated directly from natural resources, such as crude oil, hard coal and natural gas.

Renewable energy

Energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished.

Secondary energy

Energy that is generated from sources which are produced/transformed from primary commodities. Examples include petroleum products, coke-oven coke and charcoal.

Solar/solar photovoltaic

Photovoltaics (PVs) convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV systems differ from solar hot water systems in that they absorb sunlight directly into the water-carrying tubes contained in the panel.


  • Atmosphere references

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