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Glossary of terms

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GWP (global warming potential)

GWP or global warming potential is an index used to measure how much a given mass of greenhouse gas contributes to global warming.
 
GWP is calculated as the ratio of the "radiative forcing" that would result from the emissions of one kilogram of a greenhouse gas to that from the emission of one kilogram of carbon dioxide over a period of time, usually 100 years. In lay terms, GWP is a relative scale which compares the radiative forcing of a given gas to that of the same mass of carbon dioxide, which by definition has a GWP of 1.
 
An exact definition of how GWP is calculated is provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2001 Third Assessment Report (see Resources page).