The UN Climate Talks in Bonn just broke for 10 minutes over football (soccer, for you US readers). Turns out, that if the interpreters for the talks take the 90 minute break they are requesting, it will make the negotiations continue after the World Cup begins in less than 2 hours. The chair of the talks requested delegates to allow negotiations to continue in English without interpretation, but Russia, China, Mexico and others protested that this was unfair.

Hence the crisis: let the interpreters take a much-deserved break and risk missing kick-off? Continue just in English? Or find replacement interpreters (or force the existing ones to keep talking themselves silly)?

It probably won't seem strange to many that sports is trumping politics here at the UN. Some of the negotiatiors have even switched their usual suits and ties for soccer jerseys from their home country. Passions and pride are running high and discussion in the hallways of the UN is just as likely to be about who's going to win the Mexico-South Africa game rather than where a climate treaty will finally be signed (ironically, the two next rounds of yearly negotiations will take place in Mexico and then South Africa, leading to endless jokes).

What if negotiators (and the public) summoned the same level of interest in solving the climate crisis as winning the world cup? We'd have to host the UN Climate Talks in stadiums, full of fans who would cheer as their country committed to strong action. Delegates would wear the pollution reductions they've committed to on their shirts — 90% by 2050 on the back of the US jersey, we hope. The lives of delegates would be scrutinized by the media and negotiators would be ashamed to return home without a win.

As World Cup fever spreads, hopefully some of the energy will transfer to future UN talks. We're certainly looking to capture some of it here at our 350 Athletes program is one of the most exciting parts of the campaign!

p.s. It looks like they're going to try and resume the talks at 3:30 pm here in Bonn and try and wrap up by 4:00 in time for kick-off. Seems unlikely talks will finish by then. Either way, I won't be there to see it — I'll be watching the game!

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