Meet the Acronym That Just Might Save the World

It’s 12 letters long. Good luck pronouncing it.

Clouds: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-94137733/stock-photo-sky-clouds-background.html?src=OVjxEz8yhK9X17QZy06vuQ-1-99">Bplanet</a>/Shutterstock; photoillustration: James West/Climate Desk

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This story was originally published by The Atlantic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The United Nations climate-change negotiations do not hide from acronym.

No, they sprint toward it, arms stretched, yelling “Take me!” Spend some time reading technical press coverage and you’re sure to encounter IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stay a little longer and you’ll hit LDC (“Least Developed Countries”) and SIDS (“Small Island Developing States”). Even COP21 of the UNFCCC, the event’s name, embraces acronym: It’s the 21st Conference Of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

For a long time, I thought ADP was the most impressive of all. ADP names the diplomatic process scheduled to end in Paris. Since it began in 2011 in Durban, South Africa,the nations gathering this week are technically titled the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.”

Now I know I was wrong—naively, ludicrously wrong. While reading a bulleted summary of the Paris climate negotiations last week, I found the following masterpiece:

United States: Supports agreement with differentiation. Need this to create an agreement which is strong and durable. Supports CBDRILONCWRC. No one size fits all approach.

CBDRILONCWRC. There it is—see it, touch it, bathe in it. Let all those hard consonants fall off your tongue. Try adding vowels to make it pronounceable: Cabdriloncwerck. Kiss your fingertips every time you say it. The world is on fire but at least we got a scrumptious acronym in the process.

Yet CBDRILONCWRC turns out to be pretty important. According to Ryan Mearns, a Kiwi university student who has become one of the conference’s most important (if unofficial) scribes, it stands for “Common But Differentiated Responsibility In Light Of National Circumstances With Respective Capability.” This describes, in so many words, how the UN now hopes to limit carbon emissions: not with mandatory cutbacks, but with voluntary national commitments. Instead of handing down orders from on high, the UN expects every nation to bring their best dish to the party. If an agreement comes out of Paris, we’ll have this principle to thank.

So, Cabdriloncwerck? More like Cabdrilonc-work it.

I guess.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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