Since the unsuccessful UN Climate summit in Copenhagen, the German government scheduled three UN „climate talks“ in Bonn to draft a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. Last Friday, when the third conference came to an end, the 3000 delegates from roughly 180 countries parted without the desired draft.

Anticipating this development, the Chinese delegation planned an additional preparatory meeting to be held in Tianjin (China). All of these efforts have one goal: to reach a Kyoto II agreement at the next UN Climate summit in Cancun (Mexico) in December aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. To what extent the UN is able to avoid “another Copenhagen” at these talks is questionable, since, as we saw, last week’s conference did not yield any progress on the draft. Instead, many nations brought up issues with excessive demands previously discussed in Copenhagen, not only pushing the agenda backwards, but also making an agreement seem impossible. This was further complicated by discussions about how to treat transition economies or how to calculate the role of natural versus commercial forests.

Considering the likely impediments, delegates and the UN secretariat are pushing for an agreement in Cancun, but are also considering the possibility of a resolution at the summit in South Africa in 2011. It is unclear what Kyoto II will look like, with options varying between one general treaty and a number of agreements. One determining factor for the structure of the draft is the role of the USA, which recently shelved new national climate legislation.

Though the UN is willing to push talks through to 2011, several senior delegates stressed the need for immediate action, and cited the current forest fires near Moscow and flooding in Pakistan as proof for man made climate change. At this point one should remember that the head of the delegations are political diplomats and not natural scientists. Even still, many quoted the high summer temperatures as further evidence of global warming while remaining silent about the current exceptionally cold winter in South America.

These doomsday statements stood in contrast to what delegates from the environmental ministries from the same countries said in private conversation. They emphasized the point that the current disasters are not the result of climate change.

In a press briefing organised by the Berlin Manhattan Institute and held at the conference venue, Prof. Dr. Friedrich-Karl Ewert showed that long-term temperature readings do not support the claim of man made global warming. At the same briefing Prof. Dr. Erich Weede explained that the magnitude of the climate issue makes it necessary to complement the IPCC with alternative research institutions in order to get a “second opinion”.