A question of balance

As we enter week 2 of the UN climate talks here in Cancun, we've reached the halfway point - chronologically at least.

There's an expectation that any form of work-life balance will disappear as the talks edge closer to their climax.

In fact, 'balance' has become a buzzword in Cancun - not just because the long nights without sleep in Copenhagen are still top of mind for many negotiators here.

The US has made it very clear in the last few days that it will only allow progress on core issues like emissions cuts and money for developing countries to tackle climate change in return for big concessions from them.

It's certainly the most creative interpretation of balance Friends of the Earth has ever heard.

But unfortunately, it's not just a problem of something being lost in translation.

It's an underhand strategy that could block some key measures which would go a long way to achieving the strong and fair agreement we need to fight climate change.

Negotiators - specialist civil servants working for their respective countries - are expected to conclude their discussions and have a set of options on the table for ministers to make decisions on in the next few days.

Then environment ministers from across the world - including the UK's Chris Huhne - will jet in.

They will make the call on whether to be flexible about their countries' 'red lines' or - at the other end of the spectrum - where to hold firm about conditions they consider unacceptable.

Developing countries could come under pressure from rich nations like the US to make concessions.

Private meetings and arm-twisting outside the UN negotiations have happened a lot in the past and are a real possibility here in Cancun. 

But countries likely to use underhand tactics will be sensitive to pressure from Friends of the Earth both here in Cancun and back home.

You too have an important part to play. 

So watch out for actions you can take to help move the talks in the right direction this week.

Your help really will make a difference.

Henry Rummins is a communications and media officer at Friends of the Earth. He's reporting from the climate talks in Cancun as part of the Friends of the Earth International delegation.