Cancun Talks Drowning in an Ocean of Jargon?

Small island nations sinking in a sea of jargon and acronyms

Small islands nations may have the most to lose by continued inaction to curb climate change – namely the very land under their feet as rising seas threaten to inundate many in the Alliance of Small Island Nations (AOSIS).

It was Tuvalu’s Ian Fry that shook the proceedings at last year’s COP15 conference in Copenhagen with his impassioned plea for global action. What came of that was, of course, the disappointment of the Copenhagen Accord.

Marcus Stephen, President of the small island nation of Nauru and leader of the group Pacific Small Island Developing States, said Cancun this week that he indeed fears he will drown, not by rising seas but by the jargon bandied back and forth at the COP16 climate talks.

“The Pacific has a rich cultural and linguistic tradition. Hundreds of distinct languages are spoken in homes throughout our 14 countries,” said Stephen.”However, none of our words are quite so exotic as the ones spoken by the climate change negotiator. The people who inhabit these walls communicate in acronyms: QELROS, LULUCF, and NAMAs: letters that carry the power to determine which of our nations may thrive and which may vanish beneath the waves.”

Stephen lamented, much as Fry did a year earlier, that nations fail to grasp the urgency in addressing climate change, positing that perhaps the endless acronyms and jargon clouds the “gravity of the crisis.”

And in case you’re curious:

QELROS stands for “Quantified Emissions Limitation and Reduction Objectives”
LULUCF stands for “land use, land use-change and forestry”
NAMAs are “nationally appropriate mitigation actions”

Image credit: holotone, courtesy Flickr

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