BAMs, SIDS and QUELROs – do you speak climate?

By Ben Nimmo, DPA,

Brussels: One of the lesser known aspects of the world debate on climate change is the swarm of acronyms and abbreviations it has spawned.

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Some of the most outstanding follow below:

BAM: the acronym stands for Border Adjustment Mechanism.

It refers to any attempt by a country to impose special import taxes on products from states which do not have laws on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so that rival producers in the home country are not put at a disadvantage.

France is actively campaigning to have them in place, despite objections that they smack of protectionism.

MEF: the Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy was launched by US President George W. Bush in 2007 in a bid to show that the US was taking some action on climate change.

It has since become a key forum for talks between the world’s biggest polluters.

SIDS: a SIDS – the acronym is singular – is a Small Island Developing State.

Low-lying states such as the Maldives and Fiji are seen as being especially at risk from climate change, both because they are poor and because sea levels are expected to rise as global warming worsens.

This has led to a plethora of other interpretations of the acronym, including State In Danger of Sinking and others unfit to print.

QUELROs: a QUELRO is a Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Obligation – in plain English, a promise made by a country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a set amount.

QUELROs can be divided more specifically between promises by developed states to reduce their current emission levels (QUEROs) and promises by developing countries to limit their emissions growth (QUELOs).

AAUs: not dissimilar to an angry cry (they are pronounced “eh eh yous”), AAUs are Assigned Amount Units, a way of counting national emissions created by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

Under Kyoto, countries which cut their emissions by more than the amount defined in the Protocol could sell excess AAUs to countries which missed their Kyoto target, thereby saving the latter from having to pay a penalty.

They are controversial because Russia and Ukraine saved so many AAUs with the collapse of their Soviet-era industries that they are now in a position to flood the world market for emissions permits, thus reducing their value, something which the European Union is keen to prevent.

NAMA: a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action is a government project to reduce emissions by harnessing local resources such as, for example, sun, wind or wave power.

NAPA: not to be confused with a NAMA, a NAPA is a National Adaptation Programme of Action – in other words, a country’s plan for adapting to the consequences of global warming by, for example, creating irrigation schemes or flood defences.

A typically obscure quote that could emerge from discussions in Copenhagen might read: “The European Union has not yet declared that MEF members should consider SIDS’ NAPAs when drawing up QUELROs, and should fund their NAMAs with AAUs rather than calling for BAMs.”