Will Poznań be a good COP, a bad COP or just another COP out?

International negotiators are flocking to PoznaÅ„, Poland to figure out how to extend the Kyoto protocol, whose climate targets end in 2012. I believe that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process is essentially dead — especially from a United States perspective — as I will discuss this week.

Still, PoznaÅ„ will be getting a lot of media attention from December 1 to 12, even if the United States is still represented by a bunch of bad cops. So here’s what you need to know. As the website on PoznaÅ„, aka COP-14, explains:

The 14th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 4th meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol is expected to draw around 9000 participants, including government delegates from the 185 Parties to the UNFCCC and representatives from business and industry.

The two-week meeting is the halfway mark in the negotiations on an ambitious and effective international climate change deal to be clinched in Copenhagen in 2009…. Parties are expected to:

  • Agree on a plan of action and programmes of work for the final year of negotiations after a year of comprehensive and extensive discussions on crucial issues relating to future commitments, actions and cooperation
  • Make significant progress on a number of on-going issues required to enhance further the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, including capacity-building for developing countries, reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD), technology transfer and adaptation.
  • Advance understanding and commonality of views on “shared vision” for a new climate change regime
  • Strengthen commitment to the process and the agreed timeline

Such an outcome at Poznań would build momentum towards an agreed outcome at Copenhagen in December 20.

I don’t think Copenhagen (COP-15, December 2009) will see a particularly useful outcome, since Barack Obama won’t be able to get the Senate to ratify whatever treaty comes out of it. That will be the subject of a series of posts this week.

In the meantime, you can follow progress activity at Poznań on Twitter if you click here.

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11 Responses to Will Poznań be a good COP, a bad COP or just another COP out?

  1. Modesty says:

    Something to look for during Poznan.

    The claim:

    “The atmosphere doesn’t care where emissions reductions come from.”

    The atmosphere could (not) care less because it has no feelings. No atmospheres do. It’s an empty claim posing as information.

    What about the related claim:

    “The climate is not affected by where emissions reductions take place.”

    Is this true, albeit empty, as well?


    This claim is almost as automatically false as the first is true. Because its negation is obviously true:

    “The climate *is* affected by where emissions reductions take place.”

    *Where* a given reduction in emissions takes place has consequences, consequences for technology development, deployment, and diffusion, political will consequences, public opinion consequences, credibility consequences, diplomatic consequences, and more. Consequences which in turn greatly affect continued and additional reductions, there and elsewhere.

    Different places will yield different consequences which will yield different further emissions reductions which will affect climate differently.

    The effect on climate of a reduction in emissions is a vector, not a scalar. Or something.

    Size matters. But it’s no way near the whole story.

    When someone says something about the atmosphere not caring, or about only the size of reductions mattering, not the location, it’s useful to know these claims are empty, at best.

    I’d be on the lookout for such claims in Poznan.

  2. shabana says:

    We need your signature urgently!

    States are locked in negotiations to get a climate change deal through in Copenhagen by December 2009 which will set new targets for carbon emissions. Indigenous and minority communites have been left out of these – and other crucial negotiaions – as governments grapple with how to respond to the threat of global warming.
    Their voices must be heard.

    Please sign up to our letter

    to show support to communities worst affected by climate change
    to call on the UN member states to allow minority and indigenous communities to effectively participate in the current climate change negotiations.

  3. Steve Bloom says:

    Hopefully “COP on the take” won’t turn out to be most apt of all.

    Modesty, you’re being overly picky. For a precise formulation that I think encapsulates the intent behind the statement you object to, try “The climatic effects of increasing levels of atmospheric GHGs have no relation to the source of the emissions.” While I completely agree that dishonesty is often hidden by imprecise statements in the context of political negotiations, I just don’t think the example you identified fills the bill.

  4. alex says:

    “I believe that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process is essentially dead — especially from a United States perspective”

    The UN process is the only hope for the future so it better work. I would say it is becalmed rather than dead. With the US back on board this is the first chance for many years of becoming effective.

    At least the negotiators should now understand that emissions cannot be reduced by half hearted committments and empty words. Time to get real or give up.

  5. alex says:


    Given your definition of ‘minorities’ that might be a tad difficult!

    “Minority Rights Group International (MRG) focuses its work on non-dominant ethnic, religious and linguistic communities, who may not necessarily be numerical minorities. MRG’s work includes initiatives with indigenous and tribal peoples, migrant communities and refugees. These communities may not wish to be classified as minorities for various reasons. We also recognize that these groups are not homogenous – some members face further marginalization due to age, class, disability, gender or other factors.”

  6. Modesty says:


    Thanks for your comment.

    I don’t think the statement is imprecise. I think it’s just completely false. And I don’t think its falseness always or even often implies dishonesty, just plain wrongness.

    I think much of the time, these statements, including the (somewhat) related one you mentioned, are used quite casually, by people with no sinister motives whatsoever. Perhaps this is why my analysis seems overdone?

    But the *intent* behind the statement I object to (the second statement I quoted above) is to (seek to) justify allowing wealthy nations to meet their emissions reductions commitments with cheap offsets (of questionable integrity, although that’s a separate issue) in poor nations. (The statement is a direct quote (see below), and the intent of the context is quite clear.)

    While the *intent* (the seeking to justify) in this case is highly questionable, this doesn’t mean that false claims are used on purpose to support it, ie used dishonestly. I don’t know if the Swedish Minister for the Environment, Carlgren, whom I’m quoting, is dishonest in this context. (It doesn’t matter to the issue.) But I do know that he’s wrong.

    (The related truisms about the emotions of the climate or of the atmosphere are probably also rarely, if ever, offered purposefully to guarantee acceptance of the second claim, the false claim about climate effects, although they certainly play that rhetorical role quite well.)

    Given the use Carlgren makes of his false claim, it’s important to see that it’s false. I’m guessing that there’s a ton or two of rhetoric like it in or around the international negotiations that we could gain a lot from losing. What I wouldn’t give for a little buzzer to go off whenever one of the either meaningless or outright false clichés is used.

    The claims about the atmosphere not caring offer a tray of common-sensical obviousness so lush that we should all, perhaps, be forgiven for not stopping to examine their sneaky cousin, rotting at the bottom of the tray.

    But the sneaky cousin (ie, the second statement I quoted) can for instance be found, in flagrante, as the last sentence in the fifth full paragraph in:
    “För klimatet spelar det ingen roll var utsläppsminskningarna sker.”

  7. jorleh says:

    It would be better not to send the ridiculous cops at all to disturb us civilized Europe.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Modesty — Carbon dioxide is a well mixed atmospheric gas with a mixing time of about two years. Removal at even the highest expected rates will have essentially no noticable effect in the locality of the removal site just as it does not in the locality of sites adding carbon dioxide by burning carbon, in whatever form.

  9. Modesty says:


    Did you read my post?

  10. msn nickleri says:

    Did you read my post?

  11. söve says:

    It would be better not to send the ridiculous cops at all to disturb us civilized Europe.