Tomorrow marks the start of the UN-sponsored conference on climate change in Poznan, Poland. The conference will set priorities and a schedule for the upcoming year which will culminate in a global treaty to address climate change issues for the post-Kyoto Protocol period.
The Poznan conference will last two weeks, with high-level ministerial meetings taking place around December 11. Parallel to official negotiations are numerous press conferences, research presentations, and other lobbying by civil society groups. Governments also use the conference to announce major “green” initiatives to bolster their position at the negotiating table as well as to influence public opinion in their home countries.
The UN has a nice website that offers live streaming media of many of the deliberations–including press conferences from the various official delegations and civil society groups, as well as a twitter feed. I’ll be following certain elements closely and offer daily posts as I did last year during the Bali talks. If readers have any tips on other web sites following the proceedings, please offer them in the comments.
As a preview, there are a couple of things to look for during the talks. First, there will be considerable discussion on financing mechanisms targeted at adaptation for less-developed countries. Western countries will likely be less than enthusiastic about more development aid to the less developed world. This is compounded by the lack of agreement on what constitutes legitimate “adaptation” aid and the difficulties in measuring its effective use.
Secondly, the issue of forests will be prominent during the talks. There is a recognition that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and that reforestation can help sequester carbon. The problem is assuring compliance with forestation schemes, developing the proper financial incentives for preserving forests, and taking into account the challenging issue of rural poverty that contributes to deforestation.
Thirdly, the positions of China and India will be under scrutiny. They will certainly be advocates for large payouts for adaptation and mitigation, but their willingness to commit to their own reductions (and such reductions should be binding) could influence the pressure put on the US and Canada
Finally, it will be interesting to see how much global financial uncertainty is invoked by Western countries to resist serious emissions targets. Recent debates in Europe suggest there is a range of opinion within the European Union regarding meeting their long-stated reduction targets. The US delegation will also be interesting to watch. Although the official delegation will be headed by Paula Dobriansky, Obama allies will be attending, including Senators John Kerry and Amy Klobuchar. While Kerry is not officially representing Obama, he will be a key voice in ratifying a post-Kyoto treaty as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How the EU, US, and Kerry delegations speak of the balance between emissions reductions and global economic uncertainty will be interesting to follow.