Slow Progress in Poland Climate Negotiations…but Some Key Issues Emerging


The first week of the Poland Climate Negotiations has ended and progress is slow. This isn't a surprising outcome at this stage in negotiations. Without the new US leadership in place and with many of the key pieces of the post-2012 international agreement likely only woven together in the "final deal" this was the anticipation as "no major breakthroughs were expected".

But, some emerging debates have arisen that will be central to the negotiations next year as the world leads-in to an international agreement in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009).

Timeline for an international agreement and will it be a "final" detailed agreement in Copenhagen? Recent news stories coming out of Poland have contained mixed messages from key players on whether an agreement can be reached in Copenhagen and how much detail will be in that agreement (see Greenwire (subs. req.), Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse). There is a lot of soul searching about what the Copenhagen agreement will actually have in it. Will the agreement coming out of Copenhagen contain enough of the key details to be ratified or otherwise implemented right afterwards (e.g. with enough details that countries will know exactly what they are getting into) or will it be an agreement on the main framework with the details to be worked out later?

Clearly the U.S. Congress and the new Administration will need to move hand in glove and only commit the U.S. internationally to what it can actually implement in domestic law. So, NRDC and 17 other major US environmental and faith groups submitted a letter to all delegates in Poznan saying that:

We all will be devoting our efforts and resources over the next year to help President-elect Obama resurrect America's lost leadership on global warming and the environment. With diligent efforts by all countries and a renewed spirit of American international cooperation, we are confident that an agreement on climate change can be reached by the end of next year.

Emissions Reduction targets and "shared vision". There is an extensive debate on developed countries committing to reduce their emissions 25-40% below 1990 levels in 2020 and developing countries undertaking a 15-30% cut below what their emissions would have been otherwise in 2020 (so-called business as usual cut). The EU is pushing the 15-30% range for developing countries and the developed countries are pushing to get agreement that developed countries as a whole will reduce their emissions 25-40% below 1990 levels in 2020.

This won't get resolved here in Poland, but it is a "coming attraction" for the year to come. This back and forth between what level of reductions developed countries will undertake and how much action developing countries take will be one of the main points of debate in the lead-in to Copenhagen. Continued...