COP 27: A field guide to climate jargon

  • IASbaba
  • November 5, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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Context: Representatives from the world’s nations meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to flesh out the rules of a new global climate pact. Decades of climate talks have spawned a host of acronyms and jargon.

Glasgow Pact:

  • Reached at the 2021 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, the Glasgow Pact marked the first time a U.N. climate agreement mentioned the goal of reducing fossil fuel use.
  • The pact marked a breakthrough in efforts to resolve rules guiding the international trade of carbon markets to offset emissions.

Paris Agreement:

  • It was the successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
  • This international climate treaty expired in 2020.
  • Agreed in December 2015, the Paris Agreement aims to limit the rise in the average global surface temperature.
  • To do this, countries that signed the accord set national pledges to reduce humanity’s effect on the climate 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 (3.6 Fahrenheit) this century.
  • But the countries also promised to “pursue efforts” to keep the rise below 1.5C (2.7F).

Kyoto Protocol(KP):

  • In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol (3rd COP) was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The KP was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. The KP came into force in 2005.
  • There are currently 192 Parties.
  • USA never ratified Kyoto Protocol.
  • Canada withdrew in 2012.
  • India ratified Kyoto Protocol in 2002.
  • Objective of KP: Fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
  • Kyoto protocol aimed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases across the developed world by about 5 per cent by 2012 compared with 1990 levels.
  • KP is the only global treaty with binding limits on GHG emissions.
  • Common but differentiated responsibilities :
    • The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR), was enshrined in the Kyoto accord.
    • It says that developed countries, which produced more emissions in the past as they built their economies, should take the lead in fighting climate change.
    • The Paris Agreement sought to bind major rapidly developing economies such as China and Brazil into the global effort to cut emissions.
    • It does not, however, require them to make any immediate pledges to cut their emissions.

Greenhouse gases:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and other biological materials, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).
    • Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle.
  • Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste, as well as during treatment of wastewater.
  • Fluorinated gases: Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.
    • Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for stratosphericozone-depleting substances (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and halons).
    • These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases (“High GWP gases”).
  • GHGs under Kyoto Protocol:
    • Carbon mono-oxide
    • nitrous oxide
    • methane
    • Sulphur hexafluoride
    • Hydrofluorocarbons
    • Perfluorocarbons

Greenhouse Effect:

The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat. This process makes Earth much warmer than it would be without an atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is one of the things that makes Earth a comfortable place to live. The process of global warming follows the given steps:

  • Solar radiation reaches the Earth’s atmosphere – some of this is reflected back into space(shortwave radiations).
  • The rest of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the land and the oceans, heating the Earth.
  • Heat radiates from Earth towards space (longwave radiation).
  • Some of this heat is trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, keeping the Earth warm enough to sustain life.
  • Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, agriculture, and land clearing are increasing the number of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
  • This is trapping extra heat and causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.


  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made up of representatives from each country that signed the Paris Agreement and which meets every year.
  • COP27, the 27th annual meeting, is being held under an Egyptian presidency in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Nationally Determined Contributions:

  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) are (intended) reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The UNFCCC, in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis Report, has called for more ambitious climate action plans by the countries in order to achieve the Paris Agreement target of containing global temperature rise to 2°C by the end of the century (ideally it is 1.5°C).
  • The NDC Synthesis Report covers submissions up to 31st December 2020 and includes new or updated NDCs by 75 Parties, which represent approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The report was sought ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC which is scheduled to take place from 1st- 12th November 2021, in Glasgow, UK.
  • Countries have to update and expand their NDCs every five years.

Just Transition:

  • The term used to describe a shift to a low-carbon economy that keeps the social and economic disruption of moving away from fossil fuels to a minimum while maximising the benefits for workers, communities and consumers.

Climate Finance

  • Developed 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 rising seas, or more severe and frequent storms and droughts.
  • In 2015 they agreed to extend this goal through to 2025, but the target has yet to be met.

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Climate Group is an international non-profit organisation that drives climate action by building large networks and runs them.
  2. The International Energy Agency in partnership with the Climate Group launched a global initiative “EP100”.
  3. EP100 brings together leading companies committed to driving innovation in energy efficiency and increasing competitiveness while delivering on emission reduction goals.
  4. Some Indian companies are members of EP100.
  5. The International Energy Agency is the Secretariat to the “Under2 Coalition”.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)

  1. 1,2, 4 and 5
  2. 1,3 and 4 only
  3. 2,3 and 5 only
  4. 1,2, 3, 4 and 5

Q.2) With reference to the ‘’New York Declaration on Forests’’, which of the following statements are correct?  (2021)

  1. It was first endorsed at the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014
  2. It endorses a global timeline to end the loss of forests
  3. It is a legally binding international declaration
  4. It is endorsed by governments, big companies and indigenous communities.
  5. India was one of the signatories at its inception

Select the correct answer using the code given below

  1. 1, 2 and 4
  2. 1, 3 and 5
  3. 3 and 4
  4. 2 and 5


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