The Climate Jargon that Makes a Difference


Conference of the Parties, an annual conference of all countries under the Paris Agreement

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties (or countries) at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, in December 2015. It entered into force in November 2016. Its overarching goal is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

Euphoria as Paris Finally Seals the Deal (2015)

Analysis: Nuts-and-Bolts Details Will Determine Paris Agreement’s Success (2017)

Climate Delegates Get Down to Work, Make Solid Progress on Paris Implementation (2017)

‘Uneven’ Progress, ‘Stalemated’ Issues Create Steep Climb for Paris Agreement Implementation (2018)

Fossil Subsidies Keep EDC Far Out of Compliance with Paris Agreement, New Analysis Finds (2022)


The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty that was established in 1992. It commits Parties to act together to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC provided the basis for the agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA)

BOGA is an international alliance of governments and stakeholders working together to facilitate a managed phaseout of oil and gas production. The alliance aims to elevate a phaseout in international climate dialogues, mobilize action and commitments, and create an international community of practice on this issue. In announcing the initiative in 2021, Denmark’s climate and energy minister, Dan Jørgensen, stated that “there is no place for oil and gas in a 1.5 C world.” Canada is not a member; Quebec is.

Quebec, Wales, California Join Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance while Canada, U.K., U.S. Stay Out (2021)

Reaction: New Alliance Broaches ‘Verboten’ Topic of Ending Oil and Gas Expansion (2021)

Colombia Joins Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, California Endorses Fossil Non-Proliferation Treaty (2023)

Carbon Credits

Carbon credits and carbon offsets are financial instruments that represent the reduction or removal of GHG emissions from the atmosphere. A carbon credit typically represents one metric ton of CO2. 

Carbon credits can be bought by companies or entities that pollute more, from governments or entities that pollute less. However, this strategy is known to lead to problems in less industrialized countries, such as control of land and displacement of local peoples, in order for big companies to continue polluting.

Rainforest Carbon Credits from World’s Biggest Provider are ‘Largely Worthless’, Investigation Finds (2023)

Investigative Reports Find Carbon Credit Market Rife with Greenwash (2023)

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)

Carbon Dioxide Removal refers to deliberate human activities and technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, with the hope or expectation that it can be stored durably in reservoirs such as soils, geological formations and more. It is often promoted by big polluters and governments as a solution to GHG emissions, however, it is not a substitute for deep emissions reductions.

Exotic Carbon Capture Techniques Prop Up Fossil Interests, Aren’t Needed to Hit 1.5°C, New Study Asserts (2019)

Carbon Capture Technologies ‘Extraordinarily Expensive’, Show Limited Potential, IPCC Analysis Concludes (2022)

Don’t Rely on Exotic Carbon Removal Technologies to Delay Emission Cuts, Webinar Warns (2023)

Carbon Offsets

A carbon offset refers to a project or activity that compensates for GHG emissions elsewhere, equivalent to one metric ton of CO2. This can include tree planting, land restoration as examples, that either reduce emissions, or sequester carbon, meaning it is taken out of the atmosphere. This is also debated, given that outcomes are difficult to verify.

Rainforest Carbon Credits from World’s Biggest Provider are ‘Largely Worthless’, Investigation Finds (2023)

Investigative Reports Find Carbon Credit Market Rife with Greenwash (2023)

Climate Change Adaptation

Adaptation means the steps people and communities have to take to cope with the climate change impacts they are already seeing, such as natural disasters, and to prepare for future emergencies. It’s everything from preparing homes and communities to withstand wildfires and storms, to relearning farming techniques that can withstand heat, drought, and flooding. 

Underfunded Climate Adaptation Projects Aren’t Delivering What Communities Need (2021)

‘Crucial’ Adaptation Finance Falls Far Short of What’s Needed (2022)

‘Harrowing’ IPCC Report Cites Limits to Climate Adaptation, Stresses Climate Justice (2022)

Climate Change Mitigation

Mitigation means any steps countries take to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It can include: reducing and phasing out fossil fuels; increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy,and energy storage; changing the way we manage land, forests, and natural resources; and waste management.

A whole other layer of “mitigation” technologies, aiming to capture carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere, will be important for heavy industry, but can also be misused as an excuse to continue burning fossil fuels. 

‘Forget the Cost–Tackle Climate Anyway’ (2014)

September Climate Summit Prompts Goal-Setting on Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance (2019)

‘Teal Deal’ Could Tap into Oceans for Climate Change Mitigation (2020)

CCS Can’t Compete with Renewables, Won’t Deliver by 2030, Report Finds (2023)

‘This Blows My Mind’, Critic Says, as CCS Centre Admits It Can’t Meet 2035 Deadline (2023

Climate Finance

Financial assistance from wealthy nations that have benefited from emissions, to countries that are less wealthy and more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

Climate finance is important for mitigation, supporting large-scale investments to adopt cleaner, more efficient technology and reduce emissions. Climate finance is also needed for adaptation, such as disaster management and preparation, and reducing the impacts of a changing climate. Climate finance to vulnerable countries pays too little attention to adaptation, but that’s slowly beginning to change.

In 2009, rich countries promised $100 billion per year. They finally appear to have hit the target, two years ahead of their self-declared deadline.

International Climate Finance Promise Puts U.S. ‘Back in the Game’ but Campaigners Demand More (2021)

Climate Finance Faces $75-Billion Gap as COP 26 Looms 1,000 Hours Away (2021)

‘Breathtaking’ Lack of Commitment as Rich Countries Delayed Climate Finance Pledge to 2023 (2021)

Rich Countries Overstate Their Climate Finance Contributions, Oxfam Warns (2023)

Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund is the world’s largest climate fund, provided for under the UNFCCC. It is meant to assist developing countries in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Funds are contributed by developed countries party to the UNFCCC, as well as public, non-public and alternative sources.


The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change. Its main activity is to create reports and assessments on climate change to inform policymakers. The reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages by experts, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency. 

The latest report is the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

NO MORE EXCUSES: ‘Unimaginable, Unforgiving World’ without Drastic Emission Cuts, IPCC Warns (2021)

Carbon Capture Technologies ‘Extraordinarily Expensive’, Show Limited Potential, IPCC Analysis Concludes (2022)

‘Terrifying’ IPCC Report Chronicles ‘Fast Track to Climate Disaster’, Shows Narrowed Path to 1.5°C (2022)

Climate Drives Health Risk, Threatens Mental Health, IPCC Authors Conclude (2022)

Shift from Fossils to Renewables is Quickest, Cheapest Path to Cut Emissions, IPCC Report Shows (2023)

Loss and Damage

Loss and damage refers to climate impacts that cause irreparable harm to people, communities, and natural systems. These impacts, like rising sea levels or species extinction, are so severe that adaptation is impossible. The countries most vulnerable to climate change are asking to be compensated by wealthy countries that have benefited most from centuries of greenhouse gas emissions, but rich countries are not keen to admit liability.

BREAKING: $260M in Pledges Launch Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 (2023)

‘Tortuous Process’ Nails Down Details of Loss and Damage Fund (2023)

COP 27: A Win on Climate Impacts, Silence on Oil and Gas Phaseout (2022)

IPCC Delegates Defy U.S. with Loss and Damage Language, Raise ‘Issues of Colonization, Marginalization’ (2022)

Hertsgaard: Fossils Should Pay for the Massive Loss and Damage They’ve Wrought (2021)

First Person: Pakistan Floods a ‘Wakeup Call’ on Loss and Damage (2022)

BEYOND LOSS AND DAMAGE: Private International Law Could Provide Recourse for Climate Impacts (2015

Nationally Determined Contributions

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the formal but voluntary commitments that countries make on climate action under the Paris Agreement. 

They’re meant to be strengthened every five years, but some of the world’s biggest carbon polluters are aiming for higher emissions now than they were five years ago—and others are failing to keep their promises.

Climate Pollution Rising Toward 2.9°C Future, UN Warns—Like a Broken Record (2023)

Global Fossil Production Set to Blow Through 1.5°C Climate Limit, New Report Warns (2023)

‘Nothing to See Here, Folks’, as Canada Sends Updated Carbon Target to UN (2021)


Net-Zero refers to a state in which the greenhouse gases (GHGs) going into the atmosphere are balanced by GHG removal out of the atmosphere. Different terms (Carbon Neutral, Net Zero, Climate Neutral) point to different ways in which emissions sources and sinks are accounted for. Net Zero is the internationally agreed goal for mitigating global temperature rise. The IPCC and many other agencies stress  the need to bring CO2 to net-zero by 2050 to remain consistent with the 1.5°C target.

1.5°C Is Doable, but Just a Dozen Years Left to Get on a Low-Carbon Pathway (2018)

IT’S THE END OF OIL: Blockbuster IEA Report Urges No New Fossil Development (2021)

70% Chance of Emissions Reduction in 2024 Marks ‘Crucial Inflection Point’, Analysts Say (2023)