Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Speak Like a Climate Negotiator

Since global climate negotiations began in the 1990s, United Nations delegates have accumulated an idiosyncratic cache of climate diplomacy gobbledygook.  Euphemisms have been adopted to mollify specific nations.  Acronyms are based on tongue-twisting verbiage from formal agreements.

Here’s Climate Central’s guide to digesting the mumbo jumbo that’s being served up ahead of a key two-week round of climate talks in Paris, beginning today.

UNFCCC COP21 = Climate Negotiations in Paris (Credit: Click to Enlarge.UNFCCC COP21
What it means:
At the end of every year, a session of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is held, during which decisions that were mulled during lower-level meetings are negotiated and formalized into climate agreements.  These sessions are known as conferences of the parties (COPs), and the Paris meeting will be the 21st COP.

INDC - Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
What it means:
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol — a 1997 climate pact that sought to force specific pollution reductions on certain countries, but failed to do virtually anything to slow global warming — the hoped-for Paris agreement would see nations taking voluntary steps to stem greenhouse gas pollution.  More than 100 countries have already outlined what those steps will be.  The climate pledges made by those countries are called intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs.

Internationaly determined mitigation outcome - Pollution trading (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Internationaly determined mitigation outcome
What it means:
Carbon cap-and-trade programs, which are popping up across the globe, limit the release of greenhouse gases and tax companies that release them. Some carbon markets already traverse national borders — the European Union trading system covers 31 countries, and California’s program is linked with Quebec’s. Many countries hope a Paris agreement will explicitly allow such international trading as a tool for reducing pollution. The codewords that negotiators have adopted for carbon trading were designed to appease anti-capitalist Latin American governments, which are wary of international markets in general.

LULUCF - Land use, land-use change and forestry (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
What it means:
“Land use, land-use change and forestry,” which is often abbreviated to just “land use,” is responsible for about a quarter of the climate-changing pollution that’s escaping into the atmosphere every year. It remains unclear what role LULUCF will play in a Paris agreement, but it seems certain that it will play a role of some sort.

Read more at How to Speak Like a Climate Negotiator

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