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Climate Terms Explained

Climate Terms

Key Concepts Ahead of COP28

Context:- In the anticipation of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) set to commence in Dubai on November 30, the realm of climate discussions is buzzing with terms like the Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol, loss and damage, and NDCs. This guide aims to illuminate these pivotal concepts that will soon take center stage.

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COP: The Global Climate Gathering

At its core, COP stands for Conference of the Parties, an annual gathering orchestrated by the United Nations (UN) to address climate concerns. With representation from 198 countries bound by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), these parties commit to voluntary measures preventing detrimental human-induced interference with the climate system.

Kyoto Protocol: Historical Climate Commitment

Originating in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, this international treaty mandated affluent and industrialized nations to curtail their greenhouse gas emissions by predetermined quotas. Effective in 2005 and replaced by the Paris Agreement in 2020, it once spearheaded global climate action.

Paris Agreement: A Landmark Pledge

Adopted during COP21 in 2015, this agreement serves to cap the ascent of global average temperatures. Legally binding 195 nations for the first time in climate history, it aims to combat and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

1.5 Degree Limit: The Vital Threshold

Within the Paris Agreement, nations align efforts to maintain the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. The pivotal 1.5-degree mark signifies a critical threshold, surpassing which could unleash more severe climate adversities.

Glasgow Pact: Decisive Actions at COP26

The landmark Glasgow Pact, established during COP26, emphasized the phasedown of coal and the phasing out of fossil fuels. This significant agreement notably addressed carbon markets, breaking a deadlock in climate negotiations.

Carbon Markets: Trading Emissions for Sustainability

Operating as trading systems, carbon markets facilitate the buying and selling of carbon credits. These credits enable countries or industries to showcase emission reductions beyond their targets, which can be traded for monetary gain.

Greenhouse Gases: Culprits in Climate Change

These gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, trap heat in the atmosphere, primarily stemming from the combustion of fossil fuels. They allow sunlight passage but impede the dissipation of heat, contributing to global warming.

Net Zero: Balancing Emissions and Removal

Also known as carbon-neutrality, net zero doesn’t mean that a country would reduce its emissions to zero. Rather, it is a state in which a country’s emissions entering the environment are equal to the greenhouse gases being remove from the atmosphere. The removal can be done by creating more carbon sinks such as forests or by implementing futuristic technologies such as carbon dioxide removal (CDR). In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) marked 2050 as the deadline by which the world must reach net zero if it wants to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Trapping Emissions

CCS is basically a process that captures carbon dioxide and traps it beneath the earth. It’s usually used at fossil fuel plants and factories, where it prevents the gas from escaping into the atmosphere. Notably, CCS is different from carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which involves sucking out carbon from the atmosphere.

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS): Innovating with Carbon

Expanding on CCS, CCUS not only captures carbon but employs it in producing various goods, including biofuels and plastics.

Geo-engineering: Large-Scale Climate Interventions

Geo-engineering involves deliberate, extensive interventions in Earth’s systems to combat climate change, a debated area with various proposed techniques like carbon dioxide removal.

IPCC: The Climate Science Assessor

The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). IPCC’s main activity is to prepare Assessment Reports, special reports, and methodology reports assessing the state of knowledge of climate change.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): National Climate Blueprints

The Paris Agreement requires each country to prepare an outline for their efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These commitments are known as NDCs. They are submitted every five years, and successive NDCs are supposed to be more ambitious than previous ones.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs): Building Resilience

The NAP helps countries develop plans to respond to climate change’s present and future impacts. NAPs are aims to reduce vulnerability to the severe effects of climate change and strengthen adaptive capacity and resilience. NAPs also play an essential role in updating and improving the adaptation elements of the NDCs.

Global Stocktake: Periodic Climate Reckoning

A five-yearly evaluation where countries assess their climate efforts and chart paths. To getting more effective actions, with COP28 showcasing the inaugural findings.

Conclusion: A Language for Climate Action

Understanding the language of climate change empowers individuals and nations to engage meaningfully in global efforts. As COP28 approaches, these terms lay the groundwork for informed and impactful discussions on our planet’s future.

Common Questions: Decoding Climate Queries

  1. Why is the 1.5-degree limit crucial in the Paris Agreement?
  2. How do carbon markets contribute to emissions reduction?
  3. What distinguishes CCS from CCUS in carbon management?
  4. Why are NDCs need to be update periodically under the Paris Agreement?
  5. What significance does the Global Stocktake hold in climate negotiations?

Read Also: Paris Global Climate Financing Summit

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