The global roving cocktail party known as the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has opened in Warsaw, Poland. This is good news for the local economy, and for conference delegates who enjoy good vodka and kabanosy (as I do), but not much else.
I long ago gave up hope that global negotiations involving thousands of people might lead to substantive breakthroughs in climate policy. At least this time around the parties aren't promising any breakthroughs; they're merely trying to keep up their largely pretended momentum toward a new climate agreement next year.
Whatever the newspapers say, the UN's COP is a sideshow. The only climate talks of potential import and interest are those taking place bilaterally between the US and China. If those two countries can make a significant deal in the next couple of years, they could well tip global climate negotiations into a much more cooperative and productive equilibrium.