Adaptation is a society’s ability to adapt to the consequences of climate change. Heat stress, flooding (including sea level rise) and drought are the main consequences of climate change.
Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual meeting of the “Parties”, which are the countries that signed the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Emission Trading System (ETS) is a market for greenhouse gases that is managed by the European Union, in which allowances for GHG emissions by energy-intensive industries, such as electricity production and aviation, are traded. Together these sectors are responsible for 40% of total emissions in the European Union. One emission allowance gives the right to companies in these sectors to emit one tonne of CO2 or CO2 equivalent. The total number of allowances is capped and that amount decreases on a yearly basis. This decreasing cap forces companies in those sectors to either buy additional allowances (current price at EUR 60 per allowance) or reduce their emissions. The proceeds from the sale of allowances flow back to Member States and the Climate Fund.
Non-ETS emissions make up the remaining 60% of total EU emissions. They include agriculture, housing, waste and transport (excluding aviation). Non-ETS emission reduction targets are agreed at a global level, as well as at European and national levels.
Greenhouse gases are defined as carbon dioxide CO2, methane CH4, nitrous oxide N2O, hydrofluorocarbons HFCs, perfluorocarbons PFCs, sulphur hexafluoride SF6 and nitrogen triphosphate. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important of greenhouse gases. Emissions, that is the release, of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are therefore monitored in carbon dioxide equivalents, or CO2 equivalents.
Mitigation, or climate change mitigation, are the set of policies aimed at decreasing the speed and magnitude of global warming. In concrete terms, mitigation means reducing man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Net zero” refers to a state in which there is a balance between the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere and the ones removed out of the atmosphere. Achieving net zero does not mean that we stop emitting greenhouse gasses, but it means that we do not emit more than we remove out of the atmosphere.
The term net zero is important because – for CO2 at least – this is the state at which processes causing global warming stop. The Paris Agreement underlines the need for net zero, requiring states to ‘achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century’ (Art. 4).
Parties are countries that have signed the UNFCCC, or UN Climate Convention.