INTERNATIONAL negotiators are not supposed to show their feelings too openly but the Dutch diplomat Yvo de Boer forgot that rule when he left the platform of the 2007 Climate Change Conference in Bali in tears as it became clear that the Conference over which he had presided would fall just short of its targets. Last December at Copenhagen he once again had to see years of careful preparation for a Climate Change Treaty destroyed by infighting between rich and poor nations and by the lack of a strong enough lead from the United States. On that occasion Yvo de Boer did not break down but yesterday he announced that he had decided to resign from the leadership of the UN Climate Change Convention, leaving UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with the difficult task of finding a successor to take over preparations for the next major meeting in Mexico in November.
Although it could be said that de Boer had been in charge of two failed attempts to reach full 192-country agreement on global warming controls it was clear from reactions to his resignation that he is highly respected both by non-governmental organisations active in the climate change field and by at least some governments. Paying tribute to de Boer's work, Britain's energy minister Ed Miliband pointed out that for the first time the Copenhagen Conference had resulted in an accord covering 80 per cent of global emissions.