Life is like riding a bicycle

Food & climate change article written on the 03 Jun 2010

Photo: A Climate for Change

Guest blog from Rachel Coghlan, Advocacy Campaign Leader – Climate Change for World Vision Australia who is on the ground in Bonn, Germany for the UN Climate Talks.

Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving – Albert Einstein

So here we find ourselves again in Bonn for the second round of climate change negotiations since Copenhagen. The end of day two. The first day of Summer. The clouds have lifted, the rain of the past few days has ceased, the streets are filled with bicycles and people taking evening strolls. And as a colleague of mine reflected, there is a calm and gentle breeze a-blowing in Bonn this evening. Things seem, well, quietly positive.

It was, however, a slow and dull start to the week on Monday. For most participants, this was the first time back to the UNFCCC scene since departing Copenhagen with heavy hearts and exhaustion. There should have been a buzz in the air to pick up where things left off and continue to strive for the global deal so urgently needed. But instead, the Hotel Maritim seemed filled with slow moving conversation, slow moving people, and significantly tempered expectations about what can be achieved in Bonn and for the remainder of the year. One Australian delegate commented ‘the mood here seems really flat, everybody just seems really tired’.

There was also a sense of an impending doom, with rumours flying a plenty that countries were not happy with the new negotiating text – that some didn’t like it because it used Copenhagen Accord language too much; others didn’t like it because used Copenhagen Accord language too little; that some were going to block working on the text and demand a new one. A sense of groundhog day lurked in the cobwebs of the Maritim.

However, on day two, it seemed that all this was pure speculation. Six hours of statements from most countries stretching late into the afternoon, and the feared explosion over the negotiating text did not eventuate. Most statements held a positive view of being able to work with the text and there was a certain sense of willingness to cooperate and move things along.

Yet, as negotiators sit in plenary in Bonn, things are happening across the rest of the world, starkly reminding us of the urgency with which countries need to reach a deal. The northern parts of India are suffering through a record heat wave pushing thermometers to nearly 50 degrees and setting new temperature records. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Agatha has ravaged South America, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands and taking over a hundred lives in flooding driven by heavy rains.

After this meeting in Bonn, there will be only two weeks of negotiations left before countries arrive in Cancun, Mexico in December. A gentle breeze today is nice, but will it be good enough to get us on track to curb emissions and respond to the challenges of climate change? For now we will savour the mood, but things must get moving. And here’s hoping the wind doesn’t change direction.

First published on A Climate for Change