Simplifying the COP 26 Jargon

10 November, 2021

Climate change is quite complicated, and as you might know, with detailed discussions on the 1.5-degree pathways, strategies to deal with climate change and carbon disposal. For almost three decades, the world government met nearly every year to strategise a global and collective response to the climate emergency. 


COP stands for Conference of the parties under the UNFCCC and annual meetings that focus on Climate Change. In this strategic meeting, the governments meet once a year and negotiate to create a coordinated global response to climate change, which is quite effective and collaborative. 


It discusses certain partnerships – like the Paris Agreement – that focuses on, 


  1. They are reducing greenhouse gases and achieving the net-zero targets in the second half of the century. 
  2. Urges the developed countries to support the developing countries with funds starting from $100bn every year, from 2020. 
  3. Nations need to revise their goals to cut down carbon by 2020 for the year 2030. 


Nationally Determined Contributions (NBCs) – Here, people can choose the strategy and pledge. The progress will be assessed every five years from 2023. 


Why is COP26 important? 


The motive is quite clear – To reduce the emissions by 2030 and have an excellent opportunity to control global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. COP26 is the stage where the leader can put forth their climate pledge and have a collective approach towards climate change. 


This meeting would help nations to revise Paris Agreement, communicate long-term strategies (LTSs) to achieve zero emissions. The negotiators at COP26 can conclude the countries leading and those lagging behind their pledges in the Paris Agreement. 


It holds significance as we all know that NDCs are inadequate. This ratchet mechanism strives to keep nations accountable by bringing them to the table every five years with new commitments that urge NDC to revise their plans and lower the Paris goals into more achievable goals. 


Beginner’s glossary list to COP26 


Every industry includes many acronyms and buzzwords that can be pretty difficult to interpret and understand. Let’s look into the COP26 glossary of the most frequently used terms that you might come across. 


#1 COP26 – It is the 26th conference of the nations and other parties. It aims to bring the world leaders to a table, with the sole purpose of reducing carbon emissions to safe levels and controlling global warming temperatures. COPs helped to frame the Kyoto Protocol, the concept of 2-degree warming limit and the famous Paris Agreement. 


#2 Paris Agreement – Paris Agreement is the agreement made between the world’s countries at COP21. They unitedly agreed to limit the global warming temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, additional to pre-industrial levels, intending to keep it at 1.5 degrees Celcius as much as possible. 


#3 Pre-industrial levels – Theoretically, ‘Pre-industrial levels mean any period before the start of the industrial revolution. According to the IPCC, the pre-industrial period is referred to the time between 1850-1900 to calculate the global warming temperature rise. 


#4 1.5C pathway – The strategic plan aims to consistently maintain the warming temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celcius above preindustrial levels by 2100. Climate researchers have stated that this would be the maximum safe level rise in temperature. Every sector and industry are factored to consistently follow this pathway. 


#5 Anthropocene – Human activity has significantly impacted the climate and the environment, which is technically coined as the Anthropocene. Starting from the mid 20th century, human activities have transformed how the Earth system works by rapidly increasing carbon emissions. 


#6 Carbon budget – The number of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere has a significant impact on the temperature rise. The carbon budgets are a methodology to calculate and limit these emissions to maintain the 1.5 degrees Celcius limit. It is associated with carbon permits and restrictions that help to keep accountability and transparency with the claims. 


#7 2 degrees C – Increase in global warming temperatures beyond this threshold compared to pre-industrial levels is considered the worst worldwide warming and climate change impact. 


#8 Kyoto protocol – It is an agreement between 192 countries to limit and reduce carbon emissions based on individual company targets. It was the first every globally binding target that was signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. 


#9 UNFCCC – The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the term for internationa; environmental treaty that aims to reduce human interference with climate change and biodiversity. It was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. 


#10 Mitigation – The concept of mitigation focuses on avoiding the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions and global warming consequently. 


#11 Adaption – Since mitigation is Plan A for all the nations, failure to imply altogether the same is also a possibility. As far as the effects of climate change are concerned, purely mitigation might not help create an immediate impact. In practice, it is recommended to adopt mitigation and adoption together to make the best progress. 


#12 Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – Reducing carbon emissions begins by capturing the emissions from industrial activity. It is a concept that talks about trapping carbon emissions and storing them deep in the ground. 


#13 Carbon intensity – It is a measure used by developing countries to raise the issue of global warming. It measures CO2 that is released on par with the economic output. 


#14 Carbon tax – Under this concept, the government can set a price on the emitters that need to pay off about each ton of greenhouse gas emitted. 


#15 Carbon trading – Unlike a carbon tax, it is a market-based initiative that aims to meet carbon reduction targets and reduce greenhouse emissions, measuring it in terms of emission permits. The lower credits mean lower cost, which means that the companies can enjoy more profit. 


#16 Net-zero – The point of balance of GHGs being removed from our temperature to control climate change. This balancing should also reduce the emissions and not just by planting more trees to create carbon sinks. 


#17 Carbon offset – It attempts to compensate CO2 emissions by funding efforts to reduce or remove the equivalent amount of carbon released. 


#18 Climate change – In simple terms, it is the consequence of global warming. Global warming adds more heat to the planet that is usually cooled down by the oceans. But with the changing weather patterns, warming has had a significant effect on these weather patterns, fueling climate change worldwide. 


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