Climate Action

Deciphering COP21: A glossary of climate change terms

Nina Chestney
Reporter, Reuters
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Action?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Climate Crisis is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Climate Crisis

This article is published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation trust.org.

Representatives and leaders from almost 200 governments will meet in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to agree a global accord to slow climate change. Decades of climate talks have spawned dozens of acronyms and jargon. Here is a guide to some of the main terms:

UNFCCC – The United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty agreed in 1992. Its aim is to prevent dangerous human interference with the world’s climate system. The 195 countries which have ratified the convention are called Parties to the Convention.

COP21 – The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the UNFCCC and its first meeting was in Berlin in 1995. The COP’s 21st annual meeting will be held in Paris. This year’s meeting aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times.

ADP – The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Advanced Action is a subsidiary body, created in 2011. It is tasked with developing a new climate agreement to be adopted in 2015 and enter into force from 2020.

LOSS AND DAMAGE – Governments have agreed to address loss and damage caused by climate change in developing countries. The subject has often been linked to liability and compensation, which causes heated debate between developing and developed countries.

151119-map concern about personal impact of climate change Pew

MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION – Mitigation refers to human activities to reduce the sources of emissions or to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Adaptation refers to measures taken to adapt to the effects of climate change.

INDCs – In preparation for COP21, countries have to publicly outline what climate actions they intend to take after 2020 under a new global deal. These plans are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

ANNEX 1, ANNEX 2, NON-ANNEX 1 – Annex 1 parties are countries which were considered to be wealthy industrialised nations in 1992 and therefore more responsible for greenhouse gas emissions historically. Annex 2 countries are OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) members of Annex 1; Non-Annex 1 parties are mostly developing countries.

LULUCF – Stands for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry and refers to the impact of land use, deforestation and creating new forests on emissions.

NGOs – Non-governmental organisations. Includes environmental groups, research groups, business groups and local government associations. Many attend climate talks as observers. To be accredited to attend meetings, NGOs must be non-profit.

AOSIS, LDC, UMBRELLA – These are just some of the acronyms for coalitions of countries which have similar goals in the talks, including the Alliance of Small Island States. Here is a breakdown: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/items/6343.php

Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Nina Chestney is a reporter at Thomson Reuters Foundation trust.org.

Image: Cracked earth marks a dried-up area near a wind turbine used to generate electricity at a wind farm. REUTERS/Carlos Barria. 

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

The ‘4 Cs’ of being a Chief Sustainability Officer

Gareth Francis

May 17, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum