What is greenwashing? Key terms you need to know during COP26

As COP26 gets underway in earnest, make sure you don’t miss a thing by learning all the key terms mentioned by people during the conference.

World leaders and delegates are coming together to discuss various environment-related topics throughout the two weeks of COP26.

The climate conference focuses on four key goals, with each day bringing a new topic, ranging from finance to loss and damages around the world.

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As we hear speeches from influential figures and news from the climate summit continues to break, some of the terms and phrases being used might sound alien to some people.

Here are some of the key terms you might hear related to COP26 this and next week, so you can stay on top of the news.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing refers to marketing or presentation of information that offers a misleading impression of how environmentally friendly a company’s products or services are.

Examples can include supermarket food ranges using green packaging to give a sense of being environmentally friendly, without any genuine eco-credentials.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg recently slammed world leaders at COP26 for greenwashing during the climate summit on social media.

"Right now our so-called leaders are meeting in Glasgow at #COP26,” wrote Ms Thunberg on Instagram. “They use greenwashing and fancy rhetoric to make it seem like they are taking real action and that they care.

"All the while people are literally dying as a consequence of their inaction.”

Ms Thunberg’s use of the term here shows how it can also be used outside of corporate circles.

What is deforestation?

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Deforestation is the action of clearing of trees from a wide area, often because of agricultural reasons, urban expansion, or mining activities.

In terms of the climate crisis, deforestation has been connected to loss of biodiversity, food insecurities, and large contributions to global carbon emissions.

For context, tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, preventing this from entering the atmosphere.

Trees can also take in carbon, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

The Paris Climate Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, signed by 196 Parties at COP21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015.

It came into force on 4 November 2016 and terms made in this Agreement have gone on to inform the topics for discussion at this year's COP26 in Glasgow.

The Agreement also outlined a framework for financial, technical and capacity building support to those countries who need it.

What does 1.5C mean in global warming?

The key goal agreed upon in the Paris Climate Agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5, degrees Celsius, when compared to pre-industrial levels.

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Many people often incorrectly believe the 1.5C goal refers to attempts to lower global warming by 1.5C, when it actually refers to a limit of how much global warming should be allowed to increase by.

More recently, this goal has come under criticism, as many activists have claimed that world powers promised to aim for this without putting enough concrete measures in place to actually achieve it.

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