Translating the color “green” post-UNFCCC-COP21

On Earth Day 2016 — April 22, 2016 – at the United Nations in New York city, the delegates of 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be convened to a ceremony for signature of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. This agreement was negotiated and adopted last year, on Dec. 12, 2015, at Le Bourget, France, at the conclusion of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21).

UNFCCC – COP21 (The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) brought together 19,385 national delegates, 8338 observers, 2825 media representatives and many more visitors to the conference center (88,798 between Dec. 1 and 11). Together, the visitors and representatives of 195 nations and 1 regional economic integration organization gathered with the shared goal of responding and offering solutions to the threats of global warming and the predictable consequences of climate change on a planetary level.

As a reminder, global warming is understood as a phenomenon resulting from the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2)[US EPA]. GHGs are a consequence of burning excessive amounts of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil. As a result, fossil fuels are generically termed “dirty” sources of energy because of the emissions they produce. In turn, the term “dirty energy” contrasts with “clean sources of energy”, such as wind, sun and water, which do not burn to produce emissions that accumulate in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. The threats subsumed in climate change resulting from the accumulation of GHGs, are best epitomized in Al Gore’s message: An Inconvenient Truth (Gore,2006).

At COP21, the major tenets of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change included the following:

1. Holding the increase in average global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit this increase to 1.5°C, which would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change [Article2 (a)]

2. Recognition of the responsibility of industrialized nations in creating the problem of global warming and climate change on a planetary level in the provisions of Article 9, calling for the scaled up support of developed countries to developing nations beyond previous obligations. In particular, a collective climate funding goal was set in the amount of USD 100 billion per year as a floor prior to 2025. More provisions for tracking and reporting were also included to ensure transparency and accountability.

3. Review of targets for reducing GHG emissions set forth in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) with provisions to ensure that targets may only be raised. The INDCs outline each of the parties’ mitigation and adaptation plans. (Articles 6 & 7).

Additionally, in the COP21 decisions outlining adoption of the Paris Agreement, non-party-(non-nation) stakeholders are explicitly invited, welcomed and included in the fight against global warming. This means that the role played by “organizations, civil society, the private sector, financial institutions, cities and other sub-national authorities” is explicitly recognized. In particular, it is further stipulated that the President of the Conference of the parties shall appoint one champion such non-party stakeholder to serve for 1 year, with terms overlapping, for each of the yearly sessions of the Conference of Parties. Thus COP21 intensifies the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), created at COP20 in 2014, which strives to coordinate the action of non-party stakeholders who have traditionally played a vital role in advising, supporting and implementing measures for mitigating and adapting to climate change arising from global warming.

Now, what’s with the color “green” in connection to COPs, non-party stakeholders, the UNFCCC, global warming and climate change? And what’s the issue in translation?

Beyond the UN alphabet soup of abbreviations and acronyms…the term “green” is associated and often replaces the term “clean” as in “green energy” and thus technically arises in reference to those sources of energy (sun, water and wind) that do not produce the GHG effect. In reality, the term “green” is often co-opted. The color green then includes reference to alternative biomass-based sources of energy; that is, energy derived from organic matter, such as wood, certain fast growing plants, algae, organic compounds found in municipal waste and agricultural residues [ETC group].

Co-opted indeed, because while biomass based-fuel, or biofuel, offers an alternative to fossil fuels –biofuels are effectively sourced very differently from fossil fuels – it is also true that such biofuel still has to be burned to become energy — just like fossil fuel. And when biofuel burns, it can actually release more CO2 than fossil fuels, such as jet fuel, Diesel fuel and pipeline natural gas, thus creating more GHG [ETC group, p. 74]. This is primarily due to the fact that so much more biomass is needed to achieve the same fossil fuel generated energy output.

So, while biomass- based fuel is undeniably “green” as the color of the plants from which it is sourced, it appears hardly “clean”, as in “free of GHG emissions”, or even “carbon-neutral” as in producing net zero carbon dioxide emissions, after factoring in the plants grown and their capacity to absorb whatever carbon dioxide they output. That is, even if such plant-based fuel could be co-opted in as carbon neutral, in a last ditch compromise, biomass fuel would deplete forests which are able to sink and sequester carbon emissions, at a much faster rate than it would ever be possible to replace them, and would compete with the use of land for sustainable agricultural purposes (i.e.; used for feeding people and livestock). [ETC Group, p. 74]

Thus, the color green appears polysemic in the conversations that unite nations in their bid to take responsibility for global warming. The good news is that the new Paris Agreement on climate change has heard the voices of many different stakeholders (including non-state), and the varying shades of green that they uphold and advocate. The Agreement includes multiple references to sustainable development including non-market sustainable development and the promotion of “mitigation compatible with sustainable development” [Art. 6(4) a] as well as “action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1(d), of the Convention, including forests” [Art. 5].

The other good news is that the opportunity to unite nations for a common purpose such as the fight against climate change, affords translators a new specialization– one where the color green and its many shades will take center stage — and where we might be thrown in to translate the full chromatic spectrum.

ETC Group (2011) Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the new biomassters, and capturing climate genes. Oxford, UK: Pambazuka Press
Gore, A. (2006) An inconvenient truth. Emmaus, PA: Rodale books.

UNFCC – Key figures of COP21 at Le Bourget
UNFCCC – Adoption of the Paris agreement
US –EPA Environmental Protection agency

Written by Francoise Hermann

RECAP: March Meeting

The March meeting which featured Gabriela Lemoine, the CEO of Hispano Language Advisory, was well attended.

Ms. Lemoine gave a presentation on Transcreation and Translation for Marketing. This was the same presentation that she gave at last year’s ATA conference which was so well received that it was scheduled twice. NYCT members who missed the conference were fortunate to be able to catch her presentation at the meeting.

The presentation started with a look at four videos of the same advertiser in different countries. Besides the language changes there were other subtle and not so subtle differences in the various commercial spots. Ms. Lemoine explained why the spots were tweaked and how they were all successful in their respective countries while still retaining the same branding.

Examples were discussed from companies such as McDonald’s Coca-Cola and Puma. A breakfast commercial from McDonald’s was shown that while a hit here in the United States would have no meaning in some Latin American countries simply because the breakfast foods presented in the commercial were not typical breakfast foods for the countries discussed. Simple things can make a significant impact or not.

There were some campaigns that worked well, some that didn’t work at all and others that were able to be adapted and fixed midstream and turned into a successful campaign.


Ms. Lemoine reminded the audience that the purpose of marketing copy is to persuade or to sell. It must get the viewer to have a reaction and make a move. The source text must equal the target cultural response.

All translators working in transcreation should be excellent writers in the target language. Being a translator is not enough; the culture of the target audience needs to be understood inside and out. A background in marketing is helpful but not having one does not impede a translator from specializing in the field.

She then touched upon ISO standards and took questions from the audience about pay scales, obtaining work in the specialization and working with either direct clients or agencies.


The 10th Annual NCIHC Membership Meeting will take place in Austin Texas! Join them on April 1st to discuss #languageaccess in #healthcare.

For the latest updates, visit the event page on Facebook and click “Interested”.

Candidate Statements

New York Circle of Translators 2015 Election

Candidate Statements

Miosotis Vargas (Candidate for Program Director)

The very first time I walked into a New York Circle of Translators meeting, I had no idea that it was going to change my professional life forever. I met so many wonderful high caliber people that day, including the then president Leonard Morin who so graciously welcomed me and put me in contact with people who have helped to advance my career as an interpreter.

Since that fateful day, becoming a member of the Circle has continued to exceed my expectations, and today I am running for the privilege to serve as your Program Director.

In my two enriching years at the New York Circle of Translators, I have worked with other dedicated members on an outreach initiative to bring together like-minded individuals in a symposium to advance the professionalization of public service and commercial language assistance in the New York City area.

By working on this project, I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively serve as the new Program Director. I also have extensive experience in project management, having worked in several community-based organizations where I have lead successful campaigns and programs.

After Kate Deimling I will have big shoes to fill, but I am determined to continue serving the New York Circle of Translators by bringing the kind of quality programs that have characterized our organization for the last several years.

I love the Circle, and I am fully committed to our community and the future of the translation and interpretation industry. I am looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to service to its members.


Ana Salotti (Candidate for Program Director)

My name is Ana Salotti. I’m an English-Spanish freelance translator, and a translation instructor at Hunter College. I have had the opportunity to study translation and interpreting in two very different parts of the world: my native Argentina, where I undertook a BA in Spanish Translation back in 2005, and Australia, where I earned an MA in Interpreting and Translation Studies in 2012. I have been working as a professional translator since 2005, and as an interpreter since early 2015. I am an active member of the NYCT, and I am now honored to have been asked to run for the position of Program Director.

Coming from two diverse training settings, having worked in this field for almost ten years, and now teaching two Translation courses at Hunter College, I can see the great strengths, weaknesses and exciting opportunities lying ahead in our market. I firmly believe that the NYCT is breaking new ground with the monthly programs they have been putting together. I also believe that there is still more to do, to keep building our membership, provide ongoing learning opportunities, and educate clients and the general public on the importance of professionalization in our industry.

If elected, I will be looking forward to the opportunity of organizing relevant training workshops, talks and events with these goals in mind. I think training is the key to raising the bar of our profession. As a Program Director, I am ready to embrace that mission. I am committed to do as I as much as I can to make the NYCT the leading non-profit organization that every translator and interpreter in the city goes to for membership, training courses, interesting talks, and the latest trends in the market. I would also like to help build a higher profile for the Circle in the public eye. I promise to work with passion, and to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our members and stakeholders.


Lisa M. Rodriguez (Candidate for Secretary)

The New York Circle of Translators is gaining steam, seeking ways to support current members and to encourage other professionals to join us. The current Board has provided useful and interesting opportunities for members to learn about different aspects of translation and interpreting. Their efforts have inspired me to join in, and I would like to contribute to our organization’s efforts as Secretary for the 2016 term.

To help you make your decision about the position of Secretary, I would like to offer a summary of my professional background. I have been a professional translator since 2011. I am ATA Certified in Spanish to English Translation, and I hold the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies Certificate in French to English Translation.

I was raised in Union County, New Jersey. After completing my B.A. at Lynchburg College in Virginia, I lived in Spain for sixteen years. There, I worked as an English teacher, and I obtained a Licenciatura from the University of Seville. Upon returning to the U.S., I worked in the financial services sector for eleven years. For two of those years I was a secretary, after which I worked in positions which involved trade support, operational and record keeping functions for my department. In 2011, my job in financial services moved to the West coast.

At that time, I decided to seek a profession in which I could combine my experience with languages with my experience in business. Friends and acquaintances working in translation generously offered information and training. The conferences, training and support I experienced helped me conclude that freelance translation was the right choice for me.

It was one of the best decisions of my life. Courses and information offered through the ATA and its members allowed me a relatively smooth transition, and I currently work from a home office as Constantia Language Services LLC. The word Constantia is Latin for perseverance. As all translators and interpreters know, perseverance is key to developing the complex language and business skills necessary for success in our field.

As Secretary, I would not bring decades of experience as a translator or interpreter to the table. However, I have a broad-based and multi-cultural work background, and I have the writing skills, discipline and availability necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Most important, I am eager for an opportunity to work with the current board members to support the growth and modernization of our organization. It would be an honor to serve the NYCT as Secretary. Thank you for reading my statement and considering my candidacy.


Andre Kononenko (Candidate for Treasurer)

I am excited to accept the nomination to run for Treasurer of the NYCT. I have been a member of NYCT for 3 years now and have been impressed with the latest improvements and accomplishments that current leadership is actively pursuing. I am particularly motivated to work on supporting efforts for continued improvements and increasing overall member satisfaction with benefits that an NYCT membership offers.

I believe I have a number of valuable qualities I would bring to the position of Treasurer. First, I have 15+ years of practical experience as a business analyst in a large financial organization, which should allow me to accurately record, keep and maintain accounting information as well as prepare financial reports and balance sheets. I am confident that my MBA degree will complement my experience in all matters related to keeping books and records at the highest level of proficiency and to the highest standard of integrity.

Secondly, my experience and relationships with NYCT members and the Circle’s leadership would allow me to step into the role quickly.

Finally, I have energy and passion to serve the NYCT and consider it a great privilege to be of service to an organization that I fully support and endorse. As a translator, I know firsthand how important and valuable peer support and encouragement are to any translator or interpreter, to one who is just starting or to one with many years of experience. I can’t think of a better way to integrate my passion for supporting a professional group and my dedication to service than through this organization. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about my candidacy for this position, by phone (203) 273-5691 or via email:

Sincerely yours,
Andre Kononenko



You must be a current member of the New York Circle of Translators to vote in this election. Please read the candidate statements. When you are ready to cast your vote, please print out this page by using the print icon at the top of the page, just below the title and then mail to address below.

Program Director

Your vote?
Ana Salotti □ Miosotis Vargas □


Your vote? Lisa Rodriguez □


Your vote? Andre Kononenko □

Mail your completed ballot via regular mail and with a valid return address to:

New York Circle of Translators
PO Box 4051, Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163-4051

Your ballot must be postmarked by December 4th.

Regionalisms: Pitfalls for Court Interpreters in Varieties of Spanish

The different varieties of the Spanish language pose a major challenge to interpreters. Each Spanish-speaking country has its own accent, and accents may vary again within a given Spanish-speaking country. In addition, lexical differences add another level of complication: some specific words may vary in meaning from one country to another, while different countries may use different words altogether to refer to the same thing.

In this workshop, Anthony Rivas will review these varieties of Spanish, with special attention on how interpreters can best prepare to handle them in a legal setting.

Date: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Time: 10 a.m. — 1 p.m. PST (1 — 4 p.m. EST)
Cost: $100 Register by November 14 for a 10% discount!


Instructor: Anthony T. Rivas, FCCI
CEUs available:
ATA 3 points; NAJIT 3 credits; California 3 CIMCE hours L 3504; Florida 3.8 CIE credits, 15-0094; Tennessee 3 FL; Texas and Washington state CEUs pending!

NCI webinars use Adobe Connect. You don’t need to download any software ahead of time to join the webinar. Watch a short video about Adobe Connect and its features here.

NCI alums: Don’t forget to use your code for an extra 10% off!
Questions? 520-621-3615 or

Legal Webinar

Are you a Spanish <> English translator? There is a Legal Translation webinar on October 15 to boost your translation skills!

In this workshop you will learn a method for successfully translating convoluted Spanish-English legal documents into smooth and precise English.

Legal Translation Webinar Includes:
•Review and discussion of Spanish-English and English-Spanish translation skills
•Emphasis on Spanish-English translation
•Focus on the legal Spanish of Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia
•Review of legal codes and concepts from these countries
•Glossary of difficult terms not found in legal dictionaries

Date: October 15, 2015
Time: 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. PST (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST)
Cost: $100
Instructor: Anthony T. Rivas, FCCI
CEUs available!

California 3 CIMCE hours, Florida 3.6 CIEs, Tennessee 3 FL
ATA 3 points NAJIT 3 credits

We will email you instructions and a link to the webinar on October 14.

Want to register? Questions? 520-621-3615 or