The Vienna talks are seen as a key step towards preparing for the UN climate summit, due in Bali in December.Whatever climate change deals Howard wants to announce for APEC next month will necessarily need to fit into that framework - that's the real game, right there, and Howard's APEC meet is just a sideshow.
The United Nations' senior climate change official Yvo de Boer says the talks in Vienna will give an indication as to whether countries are willing to move forward towards launching real negotiating on taking forward the Kyoto protocol after it expires in 2012.
That decision is expected to take place in Bali at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN nations have just agreed a preliminary free trade pact with Japan. They also made a deal to improve the quality of cheap goods out of China, following the toy paint scare.
Where is Howard's Australia in all this? Nowhere.