Poland Climate Negotiations: What to expect

We’ll I’m in Poznan, Poland for two weeks for the next round of international climate negotiations.  This session is an important “check point” as it is mid-way between the agreement in Bali (December 2007) and when the final agreement is set to be struck in Copenhagen.  This session comes on the heels of the recent session in Ghana where some progress was made and just after the recent US election which offers significant promise

With the Copenhagen meeting just around the corner and with the urgency of addressing global warming signaled everyday, lots of people are wondering what to expect of the negotiations in Poland.  So, here are my insights on what to follow in the Poland meeting.

New Leadership in the US.  While this session will still have the same Administration in charge, an “Obama buzz” will be prevalent as the countries look forward to President-elect Obama restoring America’s global leadership on global warming.  Of course he won’t be able to do that just yet as he isn’t President, but he is showing strong signals that he’s on the right path and has a “roadmap” from a coalition of leading groups.  So, there is now an opening to unblock the international deadlock on global warming.  With a new US Administration signaling that “it is back” the chances of getting a strong agreement in Copenhagen have definitely increased.  Not a done deal, but much more promising.

No major breakthroughs in Poland but progress will need to be shown.  This negotiation session won’t produce any major agreements, as those will likely come in the final push towards Copenhagen (December 2009).  But progress will need to be made on each of the critical elements of the post-2012 agreement if the world is to get a strong agreement in Copenhagen.  Remember that during each negotiation session it is crucial for countries to start to frame the agreements and narrow down the differences.  To get a strong agreement in Copenhagen we still need:

Will the European Union remain a leader or will it have a setback?  Right in the middle of the Poland meeting, the EU will be pushing to finalize it’s “climate and energy package” which will implement how the EU will meet its post-2012 emissions reduction target (i.e., unilaterally cut emissions to 20% below 1990 levels in 2020) and finalize the evolution of the EU’s emissions trading system for the post-2012 phases.  This progress is being put into question by Poland (yes, the same country hosting a major world meeting on global warming), Italy, and other eastern European Countries.  Stay tuned as key EU bodies will decide on this package during the Poland negotiations.  I’ll be going to Brussels on Dec. 2 for a quick trip to brief EU Parliamentarians on what to expect of the US in a final push to get the EU to move forward its package (I’ll let you know how it goes).

What kind of target will Australia bring to the table?  Australia has promised that it will announce a target for 2020 just after the meeting, but the signals to date are very timid at best.  Will Australia step-up to the plate in a meaningful way?

Continued global commitment to address global warming now.  Given the current financial crisis grappling the world, Ministers will need to reaffirm their commitment for strong action.  As President-elect Obama and others are suggesting (e.g., NRDC’s President and Sir Nick Stern), there is an opportunity to address the current crisis, solve the looming one (global warming), and create new green jobs that point the world’s economy in a better direction.

The beginnings of the “Copenhagen Agreement” (i.e., the emergence of a negotiation text).  A summary of countries proposals, to date, for the Copenhagen agreement has been produced (here), but a revised version of this summary will be produced by the end of the Poland meeting.  It is important that the outlines of the Copenhagen agreement are put on paper very quickly — either at this meeting or soon afterwards — as this will force countries to take positions on existing proposals and insert new ones.     

So, a lot of subplots to follow during the next two weeks.

My colleagues Dave Hawkins, David Doniger, Michael Goo, Melanie Nakagawa, and Eric Young will be in Poland for this negotiation.  Find out where the agreement in Copenhagen is heading and how much progress has been made in Poland as we’ll be providing updates on our blogs.


Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council Switchboard.

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