From Paris to Glasgow: making sense of the climate jargon


Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31st to November 12 to flesh out the rules of a new global climate pact.

Decades of these discussions have spawned a host of acronyms and jargon.

Here is a guide.


COP26 is the 26th annual meeting of The Conference of the Parties, or COP, which is the supreme body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It’s made up of representatives from each country that signed the Paris Agreement and meets every year.


The Paris Agreement was successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty that expired in 2020.

The 2015 agreement aims to limit the rise in the average global surface temperature.

Countries that signed the accord set national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are meant to become more ambitious over time.


The Paris accord legally bound its signatories collectively to limit greenhouse gas emissions to keep the temperature rise “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius – around 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – this century.

But the countries also promised to “pursue efforts” to keep the rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which scientists say would help to avert some of the most catastrophic effects.

Soberingly, the world has already heated up by just over 1 degree Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution.


NDCs are the pledges that each country makes to reduce its emissions and to adapt to climate change from 2020 onward.

Countries must update and expand their NDCs every five years. All signatories have submitted new pledges for Glasgow.


The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" (CBDR), was enshrined in the Kyoto accord and means developed countries, which produced more emissions in the past as they built their economies, should take the lead in fighting climate change.

The issue is one of the thorniest in climate talks.

The Paris Agreement sought to bind major rapidly developing economies such as China and Brazil into the global effort to cut emissions, adding the words “in light of different national circumstances.” It does not, however, require them to make any immediate pledges to cut emissions.


Richer countries agreed in 2009 to contribute $100 billion together each year by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt their economies and lessen the impact of climate-driven severe weather events.

In 2015, they agreed to extend this goal through to 2025, but the target has yet to be met.

For perspective, a U.S. Energy Department official estimated that the U.S. alone needs to invest $1 trillion a year to meet its new climate targets.

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