COP Glossary

by Malek Romdhane

To attend the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or to follow its updates and outcomes requires a solid knowledge of its jargon and background. There are many acronyms in the world of climate policy: NDCs, ACE, CMA, UNFCCC, IPCC etc. It can be difficult to know what comprises terms such as: Article 6, the Paris Agreement, loss and damage, Rulebook, Climate Adaptation etc. This article should help with familiarising and demystifying these terms. 

Let’s start by clarifying the meaning of the following acronyms and terms: 

Parties: The countries who joined an international treaty are called as parties to the convention.[1]

Bilateral: this is an agreement between two countries.[2]

UNFCCC: this stands for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: an international treaty signed In 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, by 154 countries and the EU. This convention entered into force on 21 March 1994. The number of contracting countries grew over time to comprise 197 parties to the Convention. This international treaty aimed to structure international cooperation in tackling climate change by limiting the average rise in global temperature and the resulting climate change and dealing with its inevitable impacts.[3]

COP: COP stands for the Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC; it acts as the  supreme decision-making body to this convention. Every year (unless a serious event happens to postpone the conference) the delegates who represent the parties to the convention meet at COP to review the convention’s implementation and make the necessary plans to ensure its continued implementation.[4]

IPCC: IPCC stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is a scientific intergovernmental body that works under the auspice of the United Nations.[5]

YOUNGO: YOUNGO stands for Youth non-governmental organisation.

According to YOUNGO website, YOUNGO is the Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC. It consists of many youth-led organizations, groups, delegations, and individuals working in climate change-related fields.                         

It runs various Working Groups focusing each on specific aspects of the climate change within the UNFCCC negotiations and events to ensure that perspectives of young and future generations are taken into account in the multilateral decision-making processes. Besides that, YOUNGO members observe and report on climate negotiations, and the implications of their outcomes.[6]

COY: COY stands for the Conference of Youth. It is an annual meeting held the week prior COP under the UNFCCC, with an aim to prepare the youth delegation to COP, to build youth networks, and to provide training for capacity building. [7]

Pre-COP: Pre-Cop is a preparatory meeting ahead of the Conference of Parties under the international treaty (UNFCCC) and is scheduled usually a month before the conference. “The purpose of this meeting is to provide a selected group of countries with an informal setting to discuss and exchange views on some key political aspects of the negotiations to offer, to the extent possible, a political guidance for subsequent negotiations.”[8]

Adaptation: in climate science terminology, the IPCC defines adaptation as “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects.”[9]

Mitigation: in a climate science context, the IPCC describes mitigation as “human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases”.[10]

Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty within the UNFCCC on climate change adaptation, mitigation and finance. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.[11]

Article 6: Article 6 of Paris Agreement on Greenhouse emissions outlines that  parties can cooperate in implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) towards emission reduction.[12]

NDCs: NDCs stands for Nationally Determined Contributions.

This is the country’s national climate action plans to the Paris Agreement. According to the UNFCCC website “countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.”[13]

Paris Rulebook: The Paris Agreement Rulebook carries rules and guidelines on how to implement the Paris agreement. [14]

Climate finance: The UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance defines climate finance as “finance that aims at reducing emissions, and enhancing sinks of greenhouse gases and aims at reducing vulnerability of, and maintaining and increasing the resilience of, human and ecological systems to negative climate change impacts”.[15]

L&D: L&D stands for loss and damage.

The UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation literature review for its work programme on L&D uses the following working definition: “the actual and/or potential manifestation of impacts associated with climate change in developing countries that negatively affect human and natural systems.” [16]

CMA: Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of The Parties to the Paris Agreement. 

ACE: ACE stands for Action On Climate Empowerment.

Accordin to the UNFCCC website, this term was adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to represent work under Article 6 of the Convention (1992) and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.[18]



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