A piece on the UNFCC website entitled "the importance of informal meetings" says:
" Most people would think that conferences like COP16 happen exclusively inside plenary rooms. The truth is that most of the conversations take place during informal meetings celebrated all around the venues.
In lobby bars, coffee shops and lounge rooms, delegates from every country, gather between the formal sessions, to discuss issues about their position as a nation or even as a group of nations. Those moments, are also helpfull to distress them from the hard work."
Eating lunch at a communal table outdoors at the Cancun Messe conference centre we meet with Eva Maria Filzmoser, Programme Director of CDM Watch, which is scrutinising carbon offsets.
She is wearing a badge that highlights the problems regarding financing of projects to get rid of HFC - 23. She gathers from our conversation that we are from the European Parliament and begins to tell us of the problem. She also asks us if Mr Skylakis MEP is here in Cancunan as she has spoken with him on this issue before.
We tell her Mr Skylakis is not here but assure her he put down an amendment to the European Parliament resolution on the Cancun talks on this issue which was accepted.
Before long we are not only exchanging visiting cards but also getting and posing for photos with badges highlighting the misuse of credits from industrial gas projects, including HFC-23.
Meanwhile, we are getting closer to the end of the week without a clear sign of what substance there will be in any of the texts.
Optimisim fades when you try to put your finger on what it means to have made progress. Yes the atmosphere is better than in Copenhagen, yes the process is more transparent but the number mounts of issues that won't be decided before Durban next year, if even then.
It is not enough to have an agreement that doesn't rule out a second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol without guaranteeing that there will be one. It is not enough to see some progress on long term action without knowing what the legal form of the LCA outcome will be.
It is not enough to make progress on options for tackling issues unless there is some way of deciding which option will be chosen.
It is not enough to talk of finding a way to anchor pledges made in a formal text without recognising that these pledges are not even enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, much less to the 1.5 degree Celsiius that is needed.
We need to acknowledge the gap in ambition and to close it.
It is not enough to keep changing the name of a possible fund to which developed countries would contribute unless the fund is actually established by the end of this week and unless there is some way of monitoring the finance with some kind of common reporting format.
It is not enough to talk of who is blocking what bit of text or what bit of process unless we have a real visioin of where we aim to be on Friday.
Is the ambition of finding a new way of working that moves away from a dirty development path and enables developing countries to avoid that path altogether to give way to an ambition not to be the one to be blamed for a negative outcome of these talks?
Are we really talking only of avoiding failure by having a shell to be filled at a later point? How much later would that be? What would be the effect of such an outcome both on confidence in this negotiating format and in the daily lives of vulnerable poeple suffering from the impacts of climate change?