COP28 Glossary

A glossary for COP28, being held in Dubai, UAE from November 30 – December 12, 2023.

COP28 – The 28th Conference of the Parties. Bringing world leaders together with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels, the conference of the parties is now in its 28th instalment. Notable previous COPs gave us the Kyoto Protocol (COP3), the concept of the 2-degree warming limit (COP15) and the Paris Agreement (COP21).

UNFCCC – The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the name of the original international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system” signed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. It is also the name of the UN Secretariat body that organises the Conferences of the Parties, facilitates negotiations and receives submissions of countries’ greenhouse gas emissions reports and associated reduction plans.

Loss & Damage (L&D) Agreement – During COP27, held in 2022, the Parties made a ground-breaking agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for developing countries at greater risk of being affected by climate disasters/change.

Adaptation – What happens when mitigation hasn’t worked or only partly worked. As the effects of climate change begin to have an impact, communities and countries will adapt to these changes. An example is increased spending on flood defences in low lying areas. There is much debate about whether it is too late for mitigation and so more money should be going into adaptation. In practice a combination of the two approaches will move forward together.

Land Use – Land use refers to the transformation of natural environment/ecosystems (such as forests) into land used for agriculture, development and other human activities.

Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) – A major source of greenhouse gas emissions, in the IPCC’s AR5 (Fifth Annual Report), it was concluded that AFOLU accounted for 24% of anthropic emissions in 2010, with primary sources being agricultural emissions and deforestation.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) – Created by the Convention during COP13 via decision 2/CP.13 “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action”, REDD+ is a framework with the goal to protect forests in line with the Paris Agreement. The plus stands for any additional forest-related activities that fight against climate change (such as forest conservation). Within this framework, developing countries are able to receive payments when reducing emission via the reduction of deforestation, providing major incentive.

Financial Mechanism – The Convention has set up what is referred to as the financial mechanism to streamline the provision of climate finance to support developing country Parties. This financial mechanism also extends its support to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

Green Climate Fund – The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established at COP 16 in Cancun as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention. It is governed by the GCF Board and operates under the guidance of the COP to support projects, programs, and policies in developing countries, with a focus on countering climate change and aligning with the Paris Agreement.

Climate Finance – Climate finance encompasses funding at local, national and international levels, sourced from a variety of public, private, and alternative channels. Its aim is to aid efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation. All three agreements—the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement—emphasize the need for financial support to assist those with fewer resources and greater vulnerability.

Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) – The LCIPP is a collaborative initiative established in accordance with the Paris Agreement during COP21, that promotes and considers the rights and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples and local communities when addressing climate change. It serves as an open and inclusive space for exchanging experiences and sharing best practices on holistic and integrated approaches to mitigation and adaptation.

Carbon Reduction Plan – When a country or company creates a strategy to reduce their overall carbon emissions, usually with the goal of achieving net zero emissions.

Supply Chain – A network of individuals and/or companies who are involved in making a product for a consumer. For example, the supply chain of a chocolate bar may include producers (who grow the raw materials), processors (who turn raw materials into something you can make chocolate from), logistics (who move the product through each stage of production), packaging and marketing.

Scope 3 – There are three emissions scopes. Scope 3 are indirect emissions which result from all other activities and sources not covered in scope 2. This includes business travel, commuting, waste, and 3rd party deliveries; reporting of all scope 3 emissions is typically not mandatory.

COP28 Presidency – For every COP, a president-designate, decided upon by the UNFCCC Secretariat oversees the COP. This year, for COP28, the UNFCCC Secretariat announced that Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, has been appointed to serve as COP28’s President-Designate.

The Convention – In 1992, nations across the globe united to create the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty with the goal of fostering global cooperation in combating climate change by restraining temperature increases and addressing inevitable climate impacts. Today, 197 Parties make up The Convention.

Paris Agreement – The agreement made between most countries of the world at COP21 held in Paris to limit global warming to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels with the ambition of keeping below 1.5 degrees C if possible.

Kyoto Protocol – The agreement made between 192 countries to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on agreed individual country targets. It was the first ever globally binding agreement on climate change and was signed in late 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It only came into force in 2005 due to the complexities of global agreements but has served as the foundation for ongoing negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

IPCC – Formed in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body charged with assessing all the science related to climate change and then producing synthesis reports detailing our collective understanding at that moment in time. Crucially they provide summaries for policymakers so that the best available science can inform global policy making. Since 1988 there have been six assessment reports released by the IPCC, each of which entails a huge global collaborative effort.

Net Zero – the concept of reducing all greenhouse gas emissions as far as possible and then offsetting the remainder through carbon sequestration activities such as tree planting (it’s actually the subsequent growing of the tree that takes up or “sequesters” carbon rather than the planting of the tree itself).

Peak Emissions – The point at which greenhouse gas emissions reach their highest point before coming down. You may hear countries announce targets to peak emissions by certain years such as China’s recent announcement that it will peak emissions in 2030 before reaching net zero in 2060.

Global Warming – The name given to the phenomenon of average global temperatures rising as increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap more heat from the sun, a bit like putting an ever-thicker duvet around the earth.

Climate Change – Global warming adds significant heat energy to the planet which is stored largely in the oceans. Being the main driver of weather patterns across the globe, warming oceans have a profound effect on weather patterns, the cumulative effect of which is to change the long-term climate. The impacts of a changing climate are felt through extreme droughts, floods and storms across the globe.

Climate Emergency – In recent years the impacts of climate change have been felt through a growing number of increasingly extreme weather events that are large enough to make global news cycles. The greater attention to these extreme events has led to the phrase “Climate emergency”; an attempt to capture the seriousness and immediacy of the problem particularly in areas already feeling the worst impacts.

Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Date Published: October 26, 2023



This glossary serves as a guide for commonly used terms surrounding COP28.


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