ABC to the COP - A guide to COP22 in Marrakech

Last year in Paris the world community agreed to limit the earth’s temperature rise to 2oC in the first globally binding climate change deal. Although the agreement was an historic first, it was not the end of the road. Agreeing the temperature, like agreeing a destination, doesn’t map out the journey. That’s the job of Marrakech. The talks here in Marrakech will not be easy. Currently, each country’s pledged contribution to emission reduction only gets us to three degrees, not two, and with little prospect of reaching the elusive 1.5oC There is clearly much work to do. Even thornier is the issue of finance. And of course in this sun-lit nation, the Trump triumph casts a long shadow. I am the British Conservative spokesperson on energy and climate change in the European Parliament and this is my third UN climate gathering I have attended. I will be blogging and tweeting each day from Marrakech, with the lowdown on what is going on as the negotiations unfold. 


ABC to the COP – Do you know your mitigation from your adaptation? Your BINGO from your ENGO?

$100 Billion Goal

A target established in 2009 at COP15 in Copenhagen, where developed countries committed to mobilise $100 billion a year of financial support by 2020 from public and private sources in order to help developing nations mitigate and adapt to climate change. The $100 Billion Roadmap refers to the developed countries’ plan, requested at COP21 in Paris, and released in October this year, for how they will increase the level of finance from public and private sources to meet the goal.

Adaptation Fund

A fund created in 2001, the last time the COP was in Marrakech, to support adaptation projects in developing countries. It was designed to serve the Kyoto Protocol, but with the Protocol’s commitment period ending in 2020, the Fund’s future is uncertain. At COP22, countries will consider whether and how the Adaptation Fund can support the Paris Agreement. 

Ambition Mechanism

The various elements of the Paris Agreement that combine to increase ambition of climate action over time to ensure the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement are achieved.

Annex 1 and Non-Annex 1 Parties

One of the controversial areas of international climate change talks, this refers to the division of Parties into two distinct groups: Annex 1 and non-Annex 1.  Annex 1 Parties are those considered to be wealthier industrialised states in 1992 (when the Rio Conventions were originally established). To date, these countries have been bound to emissions reductions targets under the Kyoto Protocol, whereas all other non-annex 1 states have much less of a legal obligation to act. 

Some countries view this distinction (referred to as the "firewall" in UNFCCC circles) as a major obstacle to agreeing an ambitious global deal, while others see it as essential to ensuring equal representation in the talks, and that those with historical responsibility for climate change take the greatest responsibility in tackling it.

APA (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement)

The negotiating body established at COP21 to prepare for entry into force of the Paris Agreement

Bali Roadmap Action plan

Plan agreed at UN Climate Change Conference in 2007 to achieve a secure climate future.

BINGO (Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organisations

It is not only countries that attend the climate negotiations, and BINGOs represent some of the most influential of the non-governmental groups present at each COP. 

CDM (Clean Development Mechanism)

An important component of the Kyoto Protocol, CDM allows Annex 1 countries to gain emissions reductions credits by funding a variety of carbon-reduction projects in developing (non-Annex I) countries.  Originally perceived as a way for states to reduce global CO2 emissions while rolling-out low-carbon development in other countries, the mechanism is now seen as being flawed.  Some Parties even disagree with the basic premise of the mechanism, arguing that it allows annex 1 states to avoid committing to making the low carbon transition.


The Conference of the Parties, or the annual gathering of the 197 countries that have joined the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international environmental treaty adopted in 1992 to stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s COP in Marrakech, Morocco is the 22nd, hence COP22.

Climate Champions

A new role at COP22. Two “champions,” Climate Change Ambassador for France Laurence Tubiana and Minister Delegate of Environment for Morocco Hakima El Haité will drum up action from all COP attendees, with a particular focus on non-state actors. A new climate champion, representing the Presidency of the following year’s COP, will replace an existing one every year.


Shorthand to describe the first official Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement. (The source of the acronym is even more cumbersome: Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.) This will happen at COP22 because the Paris Agreement has already entered into force. The CMA is now the official governing body of the Agreement, and at CMA1, Parties will make key decisions regarding the Agreement’s rules and processes.

ENGO (Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations)

In addition to BINGOs, ENGOs comprise a large percentage of delegates attending the COP.

Entry into Force

When the Paris Agreement goes into full effect. This happens 30 days after 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions join the Agreement. Entry into force occurred on November 4th, years before many expected it to.

ENVI Committee

The lead climate change committee of the European Parliament.

Fugitive Emissions

Unintended releases of gas, for example during the development of oil wells.

GCF (Green Climate Fund)

The GCF was formally established by parties at COP 16 in Cancun to finance activities in developing countries around combating climate change and its impacts. It is intended to be the centrepiece of long term financing under the UNFCCC, which has set itself a goal of raising $100 billion per year by 2020.  At present, a lack of pledged funds and potential reliance on the private sector is highly controversial and has been criticised by developing countries.  To date, 36 governments have pledged to the Green Climate Fund, totalling $10.2 billion.

Global Climate Action

The official COP22 platform for non-state actors to announce their climate initiatives. This platform was previously known as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.

Global Stocktake

The collective moment to take stock of progress towards achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. It will occur every five years, beginning in 2023, and will inform the submission of new NDCs.

High Ambition Coalition

A coalition of 35 countries committed to tougher climate change policies established at the 2015 Paris climate summit. It comprises the governments of Pacific islands, African and Caribbean nations, EU member states, the US, Mexico, Canada and Brazil. Widely credited with ensuring the Paris meeting ended in agreement.


An INDC, or intended nationally determined contribution, refers to the 163 national climate plans countries have submitted to the UN to date (they are from 190 countries since the EU submitted one for all of its 28 member states). Most laid out emissions-reduction targets, adaptation plans and other climate action goals. INDCs become NDCs, or nationally determined contributions, after countries formally join the Paris Agreement and become Parties.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

The IPCC is the scientific body of the UNFCCC, and since its formation in 1988 has consistently provided clear warnings to act on climate change or face potentially devastating consequences.  The latest report is the IPCC fifth assessment report (AR5). 

The report makes clear that without swift and ambitious strategies to reduce our carbon emissions, global temperatures by the end of the century are likely to exceed the 2 degree limit necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Kyoto Protocol

Before the Paris Agreement, The Kyoto Protocol remains was the only legally-binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions achieved by the UNFCCC and covers most annex 1 countries.  The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.  A second commitment period proposed in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment, will commit only Europe to further CO2 reductions until 2020 but it is still to be ratified.  The US, Canada and Japan have refused to commit to the new agreement, on the grounds that they will not sign up to a treaty with specified legal provisions to reduce emissions.

Long-term goals

The global targets established by the Paris Agreement. They include limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels, and achieving net-zero emissions (where greenhouse gas emissions do not exceed what the world’s carbon sinks can absorb) in the second half of this century. All Parties to the Paris Agreement have agreed to take action in their own countries to collectively achieve these long-term goals.

LULUCF (Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry)

LULUCF is a measurement of the amount of carbon taken from or released into the atmosphere as a result of changes to the use of land (for farming, for example) or from forestry activities.

Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPGs)

Essentially the rulebook that needs to be developed to provide Parties with the guidance needed to implement the various elements of the Paris Agreement aimed at achieving its long-term goals, including ones on transparency, NDCs, and other issues. These MPGs will be negotiated by the Parties over the coming years.

MRV (Measurable, Reportable and Verifiable)

A critical area of the talks in Marrakech will be how to know we are on course to meet the two-degree target – this is where MRV rules kick in. The USA and other, mainly Annex 1 parties want the mitigation targets and actions of all Parties to be inter-dependently measured and verified.  However, a number of non-annex1 countries, particularly China, remain opposed to its wider application.

Natural Capital

Natural resources, like water, air and soil.

Post-Consumer Waste

People’s rubbish.

Ratification, Acceptance and Approval

After Parties adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21 in Paris, they needed to formally join it. Parties do this by completing whatever domestic approval processes their countries dictate for international treaties, and then submitting a formal document to the UN, known as an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval. So far, 97 Parties representing almost 70 percent of global emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement. There will be a ratification event during COP22 where countries that have not yet ratified will have the opportunity to do so.


A country or regional group (like the EU) that has joined a particular international agreement, such as the UNFCCC or the Paris Agreement.

Paris Agreement

An international climate change agreement under the UNFCCC adopted by 196 Parties last year at COP21 in Paris.


While CMA1 will occur in conjunction with COP22, many expect it to be extended and picked back up at subsequent COP meetings. This will give Parties more time to hammer out the rules and procedures of the Agreement, which are critical to its successful implementation. Parties may also agree to a fixed date when CMA1 will conclude.

Technology Transfer

The sharing of knowledge and equipment to help ‘stakeholders’ adapt to the demands of climate change.

Triple Bottom Line

As well as financial effects, the triple bottom line refers to the social and environmental effects that an organisation has.

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

The UNFCCC was signed in 1992, and held its first COP in 1995. One of the three Rio Conventions (on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification) derived directly from the 1992 Earth Summit, it was established with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system”.

Water Footprint

The amount of fresh water used in making a product.

With thanks to the World Resources Institute: