COP26: ODD or NDC? Our guide to the language you need to know |



Let’s start with the name of the event itself, COP26. Simply put, this is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, but officially, it is the 26th Conference of the Parties (or COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC). Let’s break this down a bit …

The UNFCCC was created following the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (often referred to as the Earth Summit). The stated goal of the UNFCCC was to reduce greenhouse gases in order to prevent dangerous climate change caused by human activity.

The Conferences of the Parties to the convention, or COP, are the formal meetings that have taken place every year since 1995, with the exception of 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic has caused COP26 to be delayed by one year.


There are 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that focus on challenges ranging from access to clean energy to poverty reduction and responsible consumption.

Together, the SDGs constitute the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

Climate change is one of the goals (SDG 13), but it is becoming increasingly clear that climate change plays a role in many, if not all of the SDGs, and that achieving Agenda 2030 will be impossible without make serious forays into the fight against the problem. .


This is the nationally determined contribution, the detailed plan that individual countries are required to develop, under the Paris Agreement, to show how they will reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases that they they emit. All countries should revise their NDCs to reflect greater ambition.

At present, these plans are not enough to keep global warming 1.5 ° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, so this year there is increased pressure on countries to sharply increase their level of ambition.

Net zero

Simply put, net zero means reducing emissions to as close as possible to zero, for example by moving towards a green economy and clean renewables, with all remaining emissions reabsorbed, including oceans and forests.

Virtually all countries have joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for keeping the global temperature 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.

If we continue to pump out the emissions that cause climate change, however, temperatures will continue to rise well beyond 1.5, to levels that threaten the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.

This is why a growing number of countries are pledging to achieve “net zero” by 2050. It is a huge task, which requires ambitious actions now.

1.5 ° C

You will often hear the “1.5 degree Celsius goal” during COP. In a 2018 report, an IPCC report, reviewed by thousands of scientists and governments, found that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels (mid 18th century) would help us avoid the worst climate. impacts and maintain a livable climate.

According to the latest data, our world has already warmed to between 1.06 and 1.26 above pre-industrial levels, and even if current promises are kept, we would still be on track to reach 2.7 ° C. this century. This would mean a “climate catastrophe” as the UN Secretary-General has pointed out, with a possible collapse of ecosystems and life as we know it.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change.

Established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the goal of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information they can use to develop climate policies.

The IPCC reports are also a key contribution to the international negotiations on climate change that will take place during COP26. A major report released in August showed that unless there are rapid, sustained and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, methane and others, the goal of limiting global warming to 1 , 5 ° C will be out of range.


Small Island Developing States are a distinct group of 58 low-lying island nations that are highly vulnerable and often affected by extreme weather events and climate change, including increased severity of cyclones, storm surges, heavy rains, droughts, rising sea and ocean levels. acidification.

In the last high-level week of the General Assembly, the SIDS leaders of Fiji, Tuvalu and the Maldives took center stage, saying their nations face an existential threat if rich countries do not. were breaking their promises to reverse the global warming trend.

UN Photo / Rick Bajornas

Aerial view of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Antigua and Barbuda (2017).

Climate finance

Broadly speaking, climate finance is about money that needs to be spent on a range of activities to reduce the emissions that cause climate change, and to help people adapt and build resilience to impacts. of climate change that are already happening.

It can be local, national or transnational funding, which can come from public, private and alternative funding sources. Climate finance is key to tackling climate change, as large-scale investments are needed to dramatically reduce emissions, especially in sectors that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, and to aid adaptation efforts .

In 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, rich countries pledged to channel $ 100 billion a year to less wealthy countries by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further increases in the economy. temperature.

The promise has still not been kept – climate finance for developing countries currently stands at around $ 80 billion – so climate finance will be one of the biggest topics of discussion at COP26.


This means the Science Based Target initiative supported by the UN. Companies that join the initiative are setting science-based emission reduction targets that leave them better equipped to tackle climate change and make them more competitive in the transition to a net zero economy.

Establishing science-based targets has become standard business practice, and companies play a major role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the implementation of country commitments.

Nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems that respond to societal challenges in an efficient and adaptive manner, simultaneously delivering benefits for human well-being and biodiversity.

Nature-based solutions are an essential part of the overall global effort to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change: they are an essential complement to decarbonization, reducing the risks of climate change and building climate resilient societies.

Examples include massive tree planting programs, which absorb carbon and provide protection from intense rainfall, and rebuilding mangroves, which provide effective and inexpensive natural barriers against coastal flooding and shoreline erosion. .


The Group of 20 (G20) is an intergovernmental forum comprising most of the world’s largest economies: 19 nations and the European Union. They strive to solve major issues related to the global economy, such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation and sustainable development.

The UN Secretary-General has made it clear that climate action must be led by the G20 countries, which collectively account for around 90% of gross world product, 75-80% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. .

Their commitment at COP26 is crucial to fight against greenhouse gases and stop fueling climate change.


The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) was established at COP1 in Berlin, Germany, in 1995 as an alliance of African member states that represent the region’s interests in international negotiations on climate change. climate change, with a common and unified voice.


Outside of formal intergovernmental negotiations, countries, cities and regions, businesses and members of civil society around the world are already taking action for the climate.

The Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA), initiated as part of the Lima Paris Action Agenda, was launched to stimulate rapid climate action, strengthen cooperation between governments, local authorities, business, investors and society civil, and to support the adoption and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

UN News produces special coverage of COP26 in Glasgow. You can find all of our COP related stories here.

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