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What is COP? Acronym Soup Explained

What is COP?

COP26 stands for the Conference of the Parties hosted by the United Nations. Each year for the past 25 years, 197 countries come together to agree on a path for climate action. The Conference is happening now for the 26th time in Glasgow, Scotland during November 1-12, 2021. I get to attend this year with a NGO Observer credential on behalf of the School of Environmental Studies Education Foundation.

International heads of state need to keep the global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius by committing (and following through) to climate target strategies and policies within their own countries.

During COP26, countries will be reviewing progress made since the signing of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and developing a concrete plan to meet the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Acronym Soup Explained

Here’s a guide for sifting through all of those abbreviations and COP26 jargon:

  • ACE - A term adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to denote work under Article 6 of the Convention (1992) and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. The overarching goal of ACE is to empower all members of society to engage in climate action, through education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation on these issues. View the US ACE Framework.

  • Blue Zone – The area of COP where the international climate change negotiations take place. Only accredited individuals and organizations are permitted within the Blue Zone. As an official NGO Observer, I am accredited to enter the Blue Zone.

  • COP – Conference of the Parties. Since 1995, UNFCCC has met annually to take stock of progress to deal with climate change. These meetings, called the Conference of the Parties (COP), are annual culminations of a year of work, ongoing throughout the year. They occur in a different country every year.

  • COY – Conference of Youth. The biggest and most substantial youth conference related to the multilateral UN climate processes. It is the official gathering of YOUNGO members and all interested youth and it happens a couple of days before the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) at the same location.

  • Green Zone – The Green Zone is managed by the UK Government, and is a platform for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business and others to have their voices heard through events, exhibitions, workshops and talks that promote dialogue, awareness, education and commitments. View the Green Zone

  • UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an international environmental treaty to address climate change that has no enforcement or binding greenhouse gas emission reductions. It was adopted in 1994 by 197 countries, or “parties.” The framework provides opportunity for more specific treaties called Protocols or Agreements to be negotiated.

  • YOUNGO. The official youth constituency at the UNFCCC. YOUNGO is made up of organizations and individuals who identify as youth, and they work to bring youth delegates together during the Conference of Youth.

  • WAGGGS - World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. I am a new volunteer with WAGGGS and will be meeting with international leaders of the WAGGGS Climate Change Programme.

Over 20,000 People Attending

Heads of state and a lot of NGOs (non-governmental organizations). I'm joining up with the US ACE Coalition and the Climate Generation delegation representing professionals that support the work of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE).

Why Are So Many People Flying to Scotland?

COP26 has laid out the following four goals:

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. To deliver on this, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, reduce deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats by protecting and restoring ecosystems and building defenses, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes and livelihoods.

  3. Mobilize at least $100 billion in climate finance per year.

  4. Work together to deliver finalization of Paris Rulebook and accelerate action to tackle climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.


Follow Sarah and her experience of the COP26 at


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