Long-term (what?) Action

We bandy the acronym LCA around at the UNFCCC on a daily basis. LCA is one of the 4 big sets of negotiations that go on here, it’s where the big political negotiations around pretty much everything other than developed country emission reduction targets happen. The LCA was formed after the 2007 COP in Bali to address some big issues (disclaimer: policy wonk language coming up…), these are:

  • A shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions
  • Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change.
  • Enhanced action on adaptation.
  • Enhanced action on technology development and transfer to support action on mitigation and adaptation.
  • Enhanced action on the provision of financial resources and investment to support action on mitigation and adaptation and technology cooperation.

So in non-policy-wonk that means.. erm…a large chunk of the work we need to do towards solving climate change, working out how to do this together, developed and developing.

Not too much to do there then…

Anyway these are the issues they have been working on ever since, though technically they were only supposed to do it for the 2 years between Bali and Copenhagen, because in Copenhagen they were going to sign off on all these issues under a legally binding agreement… remember….

But lets not dwell on what happened there. As a consequence of this not happening in Copenhagen the issues identified have not been resolved, therefore LCA negotiations have continued, and thus we get to still bandy the acronym around all the time.

But I wonder on any given day in these negotiations how many people here stop to think about what LCA really means.

LCA: Long-term Cooperative Action.


COOPERATIVE (adjective) The adjective COOPERATIVE has 3 senses:

  1. involving the joint activity of two or more
  2. done with or working with others for a common purpose or benefit
  3. willing to adjust to differences in order to obtain agreement

If you know anything about the UNFCCC you can probably tell where this is going.



But as I said lets not dwell there. 18 months have now passed since then, we have had numerous sessions and a COP in Cancun where some trust was restored. So what actually matters, is how are we doing on this front now? Are we any closer to actually cooperating and taking action together?

Well here in Bonn the LCA is rumbling on in 2 ways. Today and yesterday we had workshop sessions. A workshop session is different from a formal negotiation, instead of a having a facilitated discussion countries take to the stage and give presentations (with powerpoint and everything!), and then the other countries have a chance to ask questions about what they have heard.

In Bonn over the last 2 days these presentations were on what exactly countries mitigation pledges mean. They delved into the details of where emission reductions will happen and what action countries are taking and working towards taking. None of it is really new stuff, no one told us anything we didn’t know, but these are still worthwhile sessions: it’s important to know the specifics of how countries are working on what they say they are doing here so everyone can be on the same page .

However as nice as it is to hear from countries individually, nowhere in these workshops did we learn how countries are actually going to work TOGETHER to solve this.

Long-term COOPERATIVE Action….

But these workshops aren’t the only LCA sessions going on at the moment in Bonn, we also have a series of ‘break-out’ groups discussing different issues. Perhaps this is where the cooperation is going on?

Unfortunately if it is then I can’t tell you. Because all these break out groups are happening behind closed doors. Closed doors seem to be a more and more frequent occurrence in the LCA negotiations, to me this seems a bit, well hypocritical. Because as important as cooperation is between the countries here, what about the rest of us? Without our cooperation this process means nothing, this process is completely illegitimate. The countries tell us it is easier to discuss and to properly negotiate behind closed doors, while no one is watching, that they can be more frank and reach consensus easier. However the chair of the LCA told us the other day that he was struggling to find facilitators for the break out groups, many here took this to be a sign that these are simply jobs that no one wants. Facilitating a group that is being positive and constructive is a pleasure, helping people work together is something you can really take a sense of pride in and get a sense of achievement from. That no one wants to step forward to facilitate these groups might give us a sense of what the atmosphere is really like behind those closed doors.

We are only going to achieve an outcome here at the UNFCCC if each and every country takes resposibility and takes action domestically. What countries do individually IS important. But it’s not enough…

As Bonn heads towards the 2nd week, as the UNFCCC rumbles on, as the time we have to do this gets shorter and shorter what we need countries to do here is really think about how they can work constructively as a group. About how each of them can input into cooperative action.

About what it means to face up to climate change TOGETHER.

It’s time to put the C back in LCA.