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UN climate change negotiations: talking about talking

Discussion, diplomacy and democracy are wonderful things. The process of sovereign states exchanging views and perspectives and seeking to resolve their differences is truly civilised.

But sometimes this takes some conscious effort to remember. The UN talks on climate change are back on — and delegates from around the world are wrestling with truly difficult questions of policy and politics.

The conference in Bonn, Germany  is designed to prepare and lay the foundations for the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference which will be held in Cancun in November and December.

The first day of talks was dominated by opening pleasantries and debates about how many sub-groups to break into to further discuss what they’ve been talking about for over two years now (or longer depending on how you define the subject at hand).

‘Talking about talking’ means that real negotiations only start on the second day of a five-day meeting. This is probably necessary. But it is not a great use of time and is rather frustrating for all concerned.

Meanwhile the heaviest monsoon rains in living memory have caused  devastating floods in Pakistan which have killed more than a thousand people and seriously affected the lives of more than a million.

It’s currently impossible to link any single event of ‘freak weather’ to climate change. There have always been extremes and it’s only in trends that the pattern of climate change only becomes apparent. But these trends do include increases in the frequency and severity of extremes.

So it is possible to say that climate change will cause more tragic events like those in Pakistan. And indeed, that it is likely to be responsible for some of the deaths from flooding, drought and other climate related disasters that happen this year.

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