Conference president Canadian Environment minister Stéphane Dion was determined to put a positive gloss on events when he said: ‘Key decisions have been made in several areas. The Kyoto Protocol has been switched on, a dialogue about the future action has begun, parties have moved forward work on adaptation and advanced the implementation of the regular work programme of the convention and of the protocol.’

But a degree of accord was achieved only after eleventh hour all-night talks. Afterwards, Margaret Beckett, UK environment secretary and leader of the EU delegation, said ‘Despite the deep divisions of recent years, the whole global community including the United States, India and China, has agreed to work together through the United Nations process to examine the way forward. The UK and the European Union will do our utmost to ensure that this process is a success. Of course this is only the beginning. …. We must also live up to the commitments we have made. We will do so.’

What progress has been made follows closely the programme set by the EU as its minimum targets for the conference, namely to move forward on implementation of the Kyoto protocol by improving the Clean Development Mechanism, adopting the Marrakech Accords, the rule book for the Kyoto Protocol,- getting the Kyoto compliance mechanism up and running, mapping the functioning of the Five Year Adaptation Work Programme (the Buenos Aires ‘Plan of Action’) and launching the process for fixing targets beyond 2012. A new working group was also established to discuss future commitments for developed countries for the period after 2012. It will start work in May next year.