As a major U.N. climate conference gets underway on Oct. 31, 2021, you’ll be hearing a lot of technical terms tossed around: mitigation, carbon neutral, sustainable development. The language can feel overwhelming. “It sounds like you’re talking over people,” one person said of the terminology during a recent study colleagues and I conducted through the USC Dornsife Public Exchange. Climate reports are often written at a scientific level. So we thought it would be helpful to clarify some of the most common terms. To do that, we interviewed 20 people about common terms used by climate scientists and climate journalists. We then used their feedback to explain those terms in everyday language. With the help of the United Nations Foundation, we chose eight terms from reports written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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