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U.N. Climate Summit: Live from Poland

After a long day of travel, delayed flights, and nearly losing my passport in the Warsaw airport, I finally arrived in Pozna?, Poland, for the United Nations International Climate Change negotiations.

I work for EcoSecurities, a company focused on mitigating climate change through projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, so I'm here to represent the company at side events. I will also try to learn more about climate change and finance opportunities, technology and business solutions, and will monitor the official negotiations to better understand what the decisions could mean for our business. Over the next two weeks I'll post regular updates on when I'm not listening to the heated negotiations or sampling the local pierogies.

The Pozna? COP, or "Conference of the Parties," is the 14th of its kind, and the negotiations in Pozna? this year are sort of a half-way point between the Bali Roadmap, created last year in Indonesia, and the Copenhagen talks in 2009, when negotiators hope to sign a successor to Kyoto.

The Bali Roadmap outlined a path towards this successor treaty that involves four main pillars: mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. It also separates the negotiations into two separate tracks: one on "long-term cooperative action" (AWG-LCA), and one on targets for Annex I countries under the Protocol beyond 2012 (AWG-KP).

The split in large part reflects a compromise that Al Gore encouraged during a speech in Bali last year to keep a "large blank space" in the document, promising that in two years, the United States would "be somewhere very different from now."

Tomorrow, I'll have my first full day in Pozna?, and will start getting myself oriented on the direction of the policy debates in the formal negotiating process. So far, I've heard from colleagues that President-elect Barack Obama's videotaped speech to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate summit the other week committing to future climate change policy made waves all the way here to Pozna? today.

At the opening session, the Prime Minister of Denmark noted President-elect Obama's positions on climate change and discussed U.S. engagement in the negotiation process leading up to Copenhagen (COP15) in 2009. Guess Gore was right about us being somewhere very different!

As expected, there is much speculation about U.S. involvement in the talks and how Congressional action on climate legislation will factor into any possible decisions next year.  While Obama is not sending official representatives, he has tasked members of the U.S. Congressional delegation to report back on progress. This is a great first indication for green businesses like EcoSecurities, but like all things, the devil is in the details, and we don't expect a lot of those details to be clarified here in Poland.

For us, key questions will focus on:

-- How the existing Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, will be transitioned into a new system.
-- How the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) may be reformed to make investments in emissions reducing projects more straightforward.
-- What kinds of new approaches, such as "sectoral" crediting and reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD), might create new business opportunities for us.

Aimee Barnes is senior manager of U.S. regulatory affairs at EcoSecurities, a company working to mitigate climate change through projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.

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