This piece originally appeared on CNN.com.
After two weeks of climate negotiations in Doha, bleary-eyed ministers, negotiators, and advocates are headed back home to the various regions around the world. Few, if any, are leaving entirely satisfied.
The pace of progress on climate change is still too slow, and the political will for greater ambition remains elusive. That said, these talks did achieve the basic goal of extending the Kyoto Protocol and moving countries onto a single negotiating track toward a new climate agreement by 2015. This leaves the door open for more progress ahead.
This year's talks took place against the backdrop of two disturbing trends. On the one hand, there are multiple signs that climate change is here, and its impacts are already being felt around the world. On the other hand, the world remains tied to the consumption of fossil fuels that drive more and more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. With each passing day that we don't shift directions, we are increasingly locking ourselves into a more unstable climate future.
The real question is: Can the international talks have a real impact on climate change?