21 COP21 Acronyms/ Key Terms Defined

This post provides a glossary of acronyms and key terms to assist with understanding the Conference news and reports coming from Paris, where COP21 is on-going until December 11.

1. UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The UNFCCC is an international treaty bringing together 195 countries with the objective of managing the global challenge of climate change. The UNFCCC lays the foundations for global climate negotiations and any subsequent action. COP21 is currently taking place 21 years after the creation of UNFCCC.

2. COP: Conference of the Parties

COP is the decision-making body of the UNFCCC. Every country that is a Party to the UNFCCC is represented at the COP.

3. ADP: Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action

The mandate of the ADP is to develop a protocol, legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC applicable to all Parties, to be completed no later than 2015 and implemented by 2020.

4. AOSIS: Alliance Of Small Island States

Although each Party to COP21 has its own voice under the UNFCCC, countries have historically come together in negotiating groups that speak as one bloc on certain issues. One such group is the AOSIS, an alliance of 44 island and low-lying coastal countries.

5. BASIC: Brazil, South Africa, India, China

The BASIC group is a negotiating bloc consisting of these four countries with comparable situations in terms of economics and industrial development.

6. CBDR: Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (and Respective Capabilities)

Although developed countries are responsible for the bulk of historical greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of climate change will be distributed globally, with developing countries likely to be the most vulnerable. In accordance with CBDR, while countries must act together in responding to climate change, they must do so in ways that are appropriate to their levels of responsibilities and capabilities, with developed countries taking the lead.

7. CDR: Carbon dioxide removal

A technology being developed that would scrub C02 from the air and store it safely at the bottom of the ocean or deep underground, thereby reducing the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

8. G-77: Group of 77

G-77 is an alliance of developing countries. Although this group once had 77 countries, it now has 134 members, and is the largest negotiating bloc of climate talks. Member countries include Chile, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. Although China is officially a member of the G-77, in climate negotiations China’s views do not always align with the other G-77 countries. When they do align the bloc is known as “G-77 and China.”

9. GCF: Green Climate Fund

GCF was established to provide financial support for climate adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries. While the GCF is to be funded from developed countries, the possibility of private investment exists. Ethiopia was recently granted $50 million from the GCF for climate-resilience projects.

10. GHG: Greenhouse Gasses

Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Examples include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gasses.

11. ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability (formerly the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives)

ICLEI is a decades-old network of more than a thousand cities and towns impacting over 20% of the global urban population. ICLEI members look to “make their cities sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, biodiverse, resource-efficient, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure.” New York State members of ICLEI include: New York City, Peekskill, Tarrytown, and Yonkers.

12. IEA: International Energy Agency

The IEA provides statistics, analysis and recommendations in relation to energy security and environmental concerns related to energy sectors.

13. INDC: Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

In the lead-up to COP21, Parties have agreed to submit proposals of their contribution to climate action, called INDCs. The form and content of these proposals are open to interpretation, allowing counties to craft their own policies. Developed countries may include measurable, reportable and verifiable emissions reduction goals in their INDCs.

14. LDC: Least Developed Country

A country is classified as an LDC if it meets criteria related to gross national income, levels of health and education and vulnerability of its economy. The LDC bloc at COP21 includes approximately 50 members such as Ethiopia, Nepal, Mali and Zambia.

15. Loss and Damage

Loss and Damage refers to impacts of climate change (economic and non-economic, as well as environmental and human) that are unavoidable despite actions to reduce or adapt to climatic changes. Loss and Damage encompasses impacts from sudden climatic events, such as severe storms, as well as impacts from slower changes, such as ocean acidification. The scale and extent of Loss and Damage in the future will depend on the level of emissions reduction achieved.

16. MRV: Measurable, Reportable and Verifiable

MRV refers to the requirements that Parties provide annual accounts of their greenhouse gas emissions. Taking a broader perspective, however, the MRV concept can also be applied to financial commitments, technology support, and emissions reduction actions (i.e. not just emissions outcomes).

17. NAMA: Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action

In contrast with developed countries (expected to set quantifiable emissions reduction targets), developing countries may undertake NAMAs. These voluntary measures include any developing country actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a national governmental initiative. Financial assistance for published NAMAs is to be provided by developed countries.

18. NAPA: National Adaptation Plan of Action

NAPAs provide a process for LDCs to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change– further delay of these actions would increase the LDCs vulnerability and/or costs at a later stage.

19. REDD+: Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation; forest conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks

REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD became REDD+ when additional activities of forest conservation, management and enhancement (reforestation) were added.

20. SIDS: Small Island Developing States

There are more than 40 SIDS at COP21, most of which are also members of other negotiating groups such as the AOSIS, LDCs and the G77.

21. UMBRELLA Group

This group brings together non-European developed countries including: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States.

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