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Any natural unit or entity including living and nonliving parts that interact to produce a stable system through cyclic exchange of materials. 


The release of a substance (usually a gas when referring to the subject of climate change) into the atmosphere.

Emissions Factor

A unique value for scaling emissions to activity data in terms of a standard rate of emissions per unit of activity (e.g., grams of carbon dioxide emitted per barrel of fossil fuel consumed or per pound of product produced). 

Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA)

A contract between a buyer and a seller of project-based offset credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which stipulates the firm intent and method of purchase of credits eventually awarded to the project owners. The contract will also cover such events as failure to deliver. A pro forma has been developed by the International Emissions Trading Association that reflects the needs of its members mostly on the purchasing side; however, the terms are free to be set according to each project’s needs.

Emissions Trading

The sale and purchase of airborne pollution accounting tokens (permits and credits) including transactions and securities based on these tokens. 

Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

The concept that the natural greenhouse effect has been amplified by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (such as CO2 and methane) emitted as a result of human activities. These added greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm.

Enteric Fermentation

The process by which livestock, especially cattle, produce methane as part of their digestion. It represents approximately one third of the total CO2e emissions emanating from the agriculture sector.