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COP26 Conference | English Lesson

Nov 23, 2021

In today’s podcast, we are going to go over some very useful vocabulary related to the topic of climate change.

This is a timely topic, since the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, recently finished. The climate conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland in the United Kingdom. What were the goals of the conference and what was accomplished? Well, you’ll hear about that a little later, but first, but first, listen up! Here is our key vocabulary. Pay close attention to the meanings and the pronunciation.

VOCABULARY

  • Collective action: This is when a number of people work together to achieve some common objective.
  • Heatwave: a long period of unusually hot weather.
  • Flood:  An overflowing of a large amount of water, especially over what is usually dry land. Too much water? A flood. Floods can cause a tremendous amount of destruction.
  • Drought: A long dry period with an unusually small amount of rain. Too little water? A drought. Droughts can have a terrible impact on agriculture.
  • Fossil fuel: These fuels are found in the Earth and can be burned for energy. Coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels. Coal, by the way, is that black rock.
  • Emissions: the production and release of gas. Emissions are produced by burning fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, among many other causes.
  • Greenhouse Gas: A greenhouse gas is a chemical compound found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Two examples are carbon dioxide and methane.
  • Renewable energy: Renewable energy is energy that comes from naturally replenished resources, such as sunlight, wind, waves, and geothermal heat.
  • Pledge: A commitment to do something. A promise.
  • Phase-out: an act of discontinuing a process, project, or service in phases.

DISCUSSION

So, let’s talk about climate change: friends, it’s not unanimous, but most experts agree that the world is warming because of emissions from fossil fuels used by humans, like coal, oil and gas. As a result, we see that heatwaves, floods and droughts are intensifying all over the planet. 

In fact, the last ten years have been the warmest on record — and governments agree that urgent collective action is needed.

So, with the goal of working towards solutions, the United Kingdom recently hosted the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (known as COP26) in Glasgow. One hundred and ninety countries participated in two weeks of intensive negotiation. This was a huge conference, with nearly 40,000 people registering to participate. In fact, it is the most well-attended COP conference ever. 

One of main goals of the conference was to agree to strategies to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels 

Did you know that according to UN Environmental Programme research, a rise of 1.5°C in global temperatures, could leave 2.3 billion people vulnerable to heat waves and droughts. Also,  rising temperatures are predicted to cause sea levels to rise, and cause widespread flooding.

During the conference, countries were asked to explain their plans to massively reduce greenhouse gas and all countries pledged to phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

During the conference, 40 countries pledged – in other words, they have committed – to phase-out coal, which is considered to be the most polluting fossil fuel. This includes heavy coal users like Poland, the Ukraine, and Vietnam. By the way, did you know that globally there are currently 8,500 electrical power plants that use coal? That’s an incredible figure. 

Now, regarding the pledge to phase-out coal, there was some last minute resistance by India and China. These two countries didn’t pledge to phase out coal, but they did pledge to phase down their coal consumption. 

The United States and the European Union have launched an initiative to cut methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that comes from sources including fossil fuel extraction and livestock farming. More than 100 countries have now pledged to slash their methane emissions by the year 2030. 

There were many other important pledges and agreements made at the COP26 and all the countries have agreed to return to the negotiating table next year when the conference will be held in Egypt.  

CONCLUSION

Well, that’s all for today. If you found this lesson useful and would like to learn some more vocabulary related to the environment, check out our lesson on Solar Geoengineering. Thanks for joining me for this episode of English for Economists. I would like to give a special “hello” to our economist friends located in Peru!  It really is exciting to see how our audience is growing, with economists tuning in from all over the world.

If you’d like to contact me, you can reach me here. Remember students, practice makes perfect. Keep studying. The world needs global economists who can communicate with each other in English now more than ever. Goodbye for now. 

 

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