Developing countries and some major emerging economies – chiefly China, but also including India and others – insist that the Kyoto treaty must continue beyond 2012, when most of its current provisions expire.
This issue of a “second commitment period” in the jargon – so-called because when the treaty was originally signed, it was envisaged that the signatories would meet their 2012 targets then set a new set of tougher targets, and keep doing so at intervals – is one of the trickiest in the talks.
As ministers arrived in Cancun to join their officials, the star of the show so far was obvious: the Mexican hosts.
Praise has been heaped on the Mexicans for their skilful chairing of key meetings and the way they have managed to rebuild trust – especially among developing countries – after the acrimonious scenes that marred the final stages of the Copenhagen summit last year.
After trading between $70 and $80 a barrel for most of the past year, oil prices have surged to a two-year high above $90 a barrel on the back of strong demand in emerging countries and factors, such as cold weather in most of Europe. Banks say $100 a barrel is not a question of if, but when in 2011. And even traders in physical oil, mildly bearish until a fortnight ago, are turning bullish now.
But with the global economy still emerging from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, are rising oil prices likely to put the kiss of death on the recovery?