From Oct. 29 to Nov. 12, leaders of more than 190 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, this year’s edition of the UN’s annual climate change summit. The goal of this COP is to update NDCs, limit GHGs and keep global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. If those acronyms and buzzwords are unfamiliar, here’s a guide to some key terms that will be widely used during the conference.
Technologies that either capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere – by snatching it before it makes it out of a facility that produces a lot of CO2, like a factory or power plant – or suck up carbon dioxide that’s already in the air, sometimes called “direct air capture.” Once captured, it can either be stored underground or made into a carbon-containing product.
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, the CDP is an organization that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions.
COP refers to the United Nations conference of parties, an annual meeting on climate change. The conference was first held in Berlin in 1995, and has been held every year since (except for 2020, because of the pandemic).
- COP26 refers to the 26th annual meeting on climate change, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12.
GHG is an abbreviation for greenhouse gas, a term used to describe gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. There are three main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
- The greenhouse effect refers to the trapping of heat in earth’s atmosphere, which leads to warming of the planet.
Oil, coal and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels: energy sources that were formed by the carbon-rich remains of plants and animals, and that emit greenhouse gases when burned. They are non-renewable energy sources, because there is a finite amount of them on earth.
- Renewables or renewable energy sources are energy sources that are not finite, such as wind and solar.
UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international agreement between 197 signatories to “stabilize greenhouse gas” below dangerous levels. It’s the parent treaty to 2015′s Paris Agreement.
The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a UN body with 195 members that looks at the science related to climate change. It was created in 1988 and provides policy-makers with regular assessments of climate change and its associated risks. In August, the group released a report that concluded climate change is, beyond any reasonable scientific doubt, caused by humans.
In 2015, 195 parties signed on to the Paris Agreement, a new, legally binding climate deal that was adopted at COP21 in France. The goals of the Paris Agreement are to keep the global average temperature below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to go after efforts that limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
- The Paris Rulebook governs how countries will implement targets agreed to in the Paris Agreement.
An NDC, or nationally determined contribution, is a plan required by the Paris Agreement from each country. An NDC must be updated every five years and must outline a country’s plan to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Glasgow climate summit is the first time countries will present their revised emissions targets.
Net-zero occurs when the amount of new emissions released into the atmosphere is offset by an equal amount of emissions being removed from atmosphere. Canada has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, along with 120 other countries, including the United States.
1.5 and 2 degrees
The Paris Agreement includes stated goals to keep the planet’s average rise in global temperature below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to make efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. Scientists say the world needs temperatures not to rise by more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The global average temperature has risen by about 1 degree since the beginning of the 20th century.
Have a COP26 concept you would like explained? E-mail email@example.com
More reading for COP26:
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.