Climate negotiators gave a standing ovation to the outgoing head of the UN climate change secretariat yesterday even after he told them they would be at risk of a red card in a soccer match for wasting time.
Dutchman Yvo de Boer, who steps down from July 1 after four years in the job, said governments were doing too little to stick to a promise to limit a rise in world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times.
In a farewell address at 185-nation climate talks in Bonn, he noted that the world failed to agree a binding treaty at a Copenhagen summit in December. The next major ministerial meeting is in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov 29-Dec 10.
"To move towards World Cup imagery: we got a yellow card in Copenhagen and the referee's hand will edge towards the red one if we fail to deliver in Cancun and beyond," he said.
De Boer raised the profile of negotiations with straight-talking about climate change that is likely to hit the poor hardest. "You gave a voice to the vulnerable countries," Leon Charles of Grenada told him during a ceremony.
After a standing ovation for de Boer, his successor, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, presented him with a pair of shoes and showed a photograph of how small her feet were in comparison.