UN News COP26 climate quiz

The United Nations

How well do you know the UN climate conference and the big issues under discussion? Here’s your chance to test your knowledge, with our UN News climate action quiz (answers at the bottom of the page).

1) Who said this about climate change: ‘we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself’?

  1. Legendary TV nature presenter David Attenborough

  2. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

  3. Swedish climate protestor Greta Thunberg

2) Only four United Nations Member States have still not ratified the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement. Name one of them (bonus point for each extra country).

3) COP15 in Copenhagen was branded a failure by many, but it also saw a notable figure cause a stir by gate-crashing a private meeting being held by the leaders of India, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Who was it?

  1. Actor and activist George Clooney

  2. Renowned Belgian pie thrower Noël Godin, otherwise known as Georges le Gloupier

  3. US President Barack Obama

4) From a climate change perspective, what do Mumbai, Miami, and the Maldives have in common?

5) COP26 is being held in Scotland which, whilst a beautiful country in many respects, is not known for its warm, sunny climate. Which Scots word best sums up the weather forecast for Glasgow during the conference?

  1. Mochie

  2. Dreich

  3. Drookit

6) What climate-related superpower do seaweed, forests and mangroves all possess?

7) Which phenomenally successful K-Pop group have been named Goodwill Ambassadors for COP26?

  1. BTS


  3. XTC

8) Which of the following is the acronym for the improved emissions reduction plans that individual countries are expected to present at COP26, assuming they haven’t already done so?

  1. NDC

  2. SDG

  3. PRI

9) What single word almost scuppered the final negotiations over the landmark Paris Climate Agreement at COP21?

  1. May

  2. Shall

  3. Must

10) How did UN chief António Guterres describe the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in August, which showed that, unless there are rapid, sustained and large-scale reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C will be beyond reach?

  1. A tipping point for climate action

  2. On track for climate catastrophe

  3. A code red for humanity

UN News is producing special coverage from COP26 in Glasgow. You can find all our COP-related stories here.


1) a) Margaret Thatcher. The “Iron Lady” studied chemistry at university, and so was well placed to understand the threat of climate change, when she made the statement in a speech in 1988. The following year, she expressed similar sentiments in a speech to the UN General Assembly, when she said that “the environmental challenge that confronts the whole world demands an equivalent response from the whole world. Every country will be affected, and no one can opt out. Those countries who are industrialised must contribute more to help those who are not”.

2) The United Nations Treaty Collection website shows that Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have not ratified the Paris Agreement.

3) c) Former US President Barack Obama. Nearing the end of the conference, and without an agreement between the US and the BASIC bloc of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), Mr. Obama heard that the leaders of these nations were holding a meeting. In the full view of the media, he arrived at the conference room containing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and South African President Jacob Zuma, and announced himself by saying loudly “are you ready?”

4) They are all at serious risk of being completely submerged, due to rising sea levels, in the coming decades. According to projections by NASA, Mumbai could be underwater by 2050, some studies show that Miami is one of the most vulnerable coastal cities in the world, and The Maldives, a low-lying island nation heavily reliant on tourism, is reportedly planning a floating city in order to stay afloat.

5) c) The forecast says heavy rain, so “drookit” is the most appropriate way to describe Glasgow next week, evoking weather that leaves you completely drenched. The word “dreich” even sounds like the weather it is describing: gloomy, grey and overcast. So if the rain ever stops, the outlook is still likely to be dreich! Things are unlikely to get “mochie” however: mochie is how you feel when it is hot, clammy and humid.

6) They are all nature-based solutions to climate change, and significant “carbon sinks”: underwater kelp forests have the potential to remove vast quantities of harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere; reforestation programmes are reducing land degradation and soaking up carbon; and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) calls mangroves a “super solution” to the climate crisis, citing their ability to store four times as much CO2 as rainforests.

7) b) BLACKPINK were appointed as advocates for COP26 back in February. BTS are friends of the UN, having played a prominent role during this year’s General Assembly week, even shooting a music video at UN Headquarters. XTC, however, are not even a K-Pop group, but rather a 1970s English pop band.

8) a) NDC, which stands for Nationally Determined Contribution. SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals, the building blocks of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and PRI is Principles for Responsible Investment, a UN-backed network of financial industry experts, which works to promote sustainable investment.

9) b) ‘Shall’. We all remember the cries and cheers after the triumphant COP21 agreement in Paris, but it could have been very different. At the last minute, the legal team of the US delegation reportedly noticed that the word “shall” was included in a crucial clause related to emission reductions, rather than “should”. The elegant solution of the French hosts was to describe this as a “typographical error”, ensuring that the agreement was adopted by consensus.

10) c) A code red for humanity. The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlighted that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years. “The alarm bells are deafening”, said Mr. Guterres, “and the evidence is irrefutable”. The UN chief said that the world has reached a tipping point on the need for climate action at the launch of the United in Science report in September. At the launch of the UN Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap report, he warned that “we are still on track for climate catastrophe”.

UN News Release. More on this here.