International Climate Change Negotiations Move at Glacial Pace

iceberg in Iceland

I’m back in Germany this week for more climate change negotiations, as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) continues its work to create an international climate change agreement. Although we are not that far from Copenhagen physically, it seems like a million miles away.

Representatives from all of the Parties (participating countries) are here attending plenary discussions, working groups and informal meetings, saying they are looking for ways to move forward. Still, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to to get things done before December’s COP16 meeting in Cancun. Quite frankly, it looks as if everyone has settled down for a long process which has no clear end date.

I find this attitude shift incredible considering that many countries are experiencing drastic weather and agriculture-related hardships that can easily be attributed to the effects of climate change. Maybe the negotiators are spending so much time away in negotiations and meetings that they’re never home to see the flooding, heat waves or crop losses for themselves.

I don’t mean to suggest there is no progress being made here in Bonn. Many important, necessary discussions are taking place, especially in the area of land-use emissions and adaptation. But the pace seems even more glacial than normal (no pun intended, as glacial melting is obviously quite fast!)

My NGO colleagues and I will keep watching and pushing for action. Unfortunately what the world needs is strong national leadership – and only the Parties can provide that.

Manuel Oliva is CI’s director of U.S. climate policy.


  1. Dedicated Ecologist says

    Thanks Manuel for your attendance at this event. Creating relevance and importance is always difficult when it comes to scientific matters, especially as they relate to such a political hot button as climate change.

    Stay the course and be patient. Remember, global climate change takes a long time to affect.

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