CAP Glossary of Terms and Bibliography

Glossary of Terms



Active Travel

Modes of transportation that are alternatives to motorised transport and promote physical activity, such as walking and cycling.


Adaptation refers to dealing with the expected impacts of climate change and involves taking practical actions to manage risks, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy.

Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Emissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities. 


The variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part, and includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Budget Period

A period of five years for which a carbon budget will be approved by the Government, the first of which commenced on 1 January 2021 and will end on 31 December 2025. The subsequent budget periods are 2026-2030, and 2031-2035.

Carbon Budget

The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted during the budget period.

Carbon Sinks

A natural or artificial reservoir that soaks up and stores greenhouse gases. For example: Wetlands or Oceans. This removes GHG from the air and keeps the Earth’s temperature from increasing.

Circular Economy

An economy that promotes efficient and low-carbon approaches. Its goal is to reduce waste production and encourage the reuse of products and materials.

Climate Action Plan (National)

The Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) is the second annual update to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019. This plan is the first to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, and following the introduction, in 2022, of economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings. The Plan sets out how Ireland can accelerate the actions that are required to respond to the climate crisis, putting climate solutions at the centre of Ireland’s social and economic development.

Climate Justice

This links development and human rights to achieve a human-centred approach to addressing climate change, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts fairly.

Climate Neutral Economy

A sustainable economy and society where greenhouse gas emissions are balanced or exceeded by the removal of greenhouse gases.

Climate Resilience

Ability to tackle the negative impacts of climate change by reducing its effect on people and the environment, while taking advantage of any positive opportunities.


Shifting from fossil-fuels to ‘carbon-free’ and ‘renewable’ energy sources.

Decarbonising Zone (DZ)

A DZ is a spatial area identified by the local authority in which a range of climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity measures and action owners are identified to address local low carbon energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate needs to contribute to national climate action targets.

District Heating

Delivery of centrally produced heat to buildings in a specific area.

Energy Efficiency

Reducing the quantity of energy used in products and services.

Just Transition 

A process within the wider statutory framework of climate action, which endeavours to maximise employment opportunities, and support persons and communities that nay be negatively affected by the transition to a climate neutral economy.

Local Authority Climate Action Plan

A plan relating to a period of five years which shall specify the mitigation measures and the adaptation measures to be adopted by the local authority. 


Actions that may lead to increased risk of adverse climate-related outcomes, including via increased GHG emissions, increased vulnerability to climate change or diminished welfare, now or in the future. Maladaptation is usually an unintended consequence.


Mitigation is about changing how we live, move, consume and manufacture so as to reduce and/or eliminate the production of harmful greenhouse gases: and it includes how we best use our land.

National Adaptation Framework (NAF)

The NAF sets out Ireland’s national strategy to reduce the vulnerability of the country to the negative effects of climate change and to avail of positive impacts. The 2015 Climate and Low Carbon Development Act, requires that the National Adaptation Framework (NAF) be reviewed at least every five years.

National Climate Objective

The State shall, so as to reduce the extent of further global warming, pursue and achieve, by no later than the end of the year 2050, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy

National Long-Term Climate Action Strategy

This sets out indicative pathways, beyond 2030, towards achieving carbon neutrality for Ireland by 2050. The Strategy builds upon the decarbonisation pathways set by the carbon budgets, sectoral emissions ceilings and the national Climate Action Plan, to ensure coherent and effective climate policy.

Nature-Based Projects

A solution that is inspired and supported by the process and functioning of nature, which is cost-effective and provides environmental, social and economic benefits and helps to build resilience.

Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB)

A building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.

Offshore Renewable Energy

Renewable energy produced from ocean and coastal resources.

Onshore Renewable Energy

Renewable energy produced from land-based resources.

Sectoral Adaptation Plan

Sectoral plans describe and assess the extent of the risks presented by climate change to a sector, and present contingency plans to address these risks and ensure climate resilience. 

The nine sectors this applies to include – Agriculture, Forestry and Seafood, Biodiversity, Built and Archaeological Heritage, Transport Infrastructure, Electricity and Gas Networks, Communications Network, Flood Risk Management, Water Quality and Water Services Infrastructure and Health.

Sectoral Emissions Ceiling

Within the limits of the carbon budget, the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted in different sectors of the economy during a budget period. Different ceilings may apply to different sectors.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 17 global goals for development for all countries established by the United Nations through a participatory process and elaborated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including: ending poverty and hunger; ensuring health and well-being, education, gender equality, clean water and energy and decent work; building and ensuring resilient and sustainable infrastructure, cities and consumption; reducing inequalities; protecting land and water ecosystems; promoting peace, justice and partnerships; and taking urgent action on climate change.


Department of the Environment Climate and Communications (2023a) Climate Action Plan 2023. Retrieved from: 

Department of the Environment Climate and Communications (2023b) Guidelines for Local Authority Climate Action Plans. Retrieved from: 

Environmental Protection Agency (2023) Ireland's Provisional Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2022. Retrieved from:'s-Final-Greenhouse-gas-report-1990-2021_April-2023.pdf 

European Commission (2021) European Green Deal: EU agrees stronger rules to boost energy efficiency [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 24 April 2023).

European Commission (2022) Nature Restoration Law [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 26 July 2023).

European Commission (undated a) A European Green Deal [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 26 July 2023).

European Commission (2022) Commission announces 100 cities participating in EU Mission for climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030 [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 26 July 2023).

European Commission (undated b) EU Mission: Adaptation to Climate Change [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 26 July 2023).

Flanagan, P. and Kirwan, S. (2020) Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals: A Workbook for Further Education Institutions, Development Perspectives. Available at: (Accessed: 20 April 2023). 

IPCC, (2023) Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report. A Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, H. Lee and J. Romero (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 36 pages. (in press).

Murphy, E., Walsh, P. P. and Banerjee, A. (2021) Framework for Achieving the Environmental Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental Protection Agency.  

Nilsson, M. et al. (2018) ‘Mapping interactions between the sustainable development goals: lessons learned and ways forward’, Sustain Sci, 13(6), pp. 1489–1503. doi: 10.1007/s11625-018-0604-z.  

Nilsson, M., Griggs, D. and Visbeck, M. (2016) ‘Policy: Map the interactions between Sustainable Development Goals’, Nature, 534(7607), pp. 320–322. doi: 10.1038/534320a.  

Stockholm Resilience Centre (no date) The SDGs Wedding Cake. Available at: (Accessed: 20 April 2023).  

United Cities and Local Governments (2015) The Sustainable Development Goals: What Local Governments Need to Know. United Nations. 

United Nations (2015) Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, United Nations General Assembly. Available at: (Accessed: 20 April 2023).  

United Nations Development Program (2023) Background On The Goals | United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. Available at: (Accessed: 20 April 2023).  

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2022) What is the Global Stocktake? (Online) Available at: (Accessed: 24 April 2023).

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