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Climate-Change Talks

Meeting in Poland sets stage for next year's negotiations on new treaty to lower greenhouse gas emissions

by Cheryl Hogue
December 1, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 48

The United Nations' climate-change talks this week through Dec. 12 in Pozna´n , Poland, will set the stage for intense negotiations next year that are expected to culminate with a new treaty to lower global emissions of greenhouse gases. Observers, however, expect the meeting to produce few concrete results.

Governments "won't negotiate substance" in Pozna??n , says Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who leads a congressional delegation to the meeting. In January 2009, Kerry will assume the helm of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the current chairman, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), will be sworn in as vice president.

The sagging global economy will influence the Pozna´n talks and the negotiations on a new climate accord, which is supposed to be completed at a December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen. "Economic realities may affect short-term goals" for global emissions reductions, Kerry says.

One tangible outcome expected from the Pozna??n meeting is a deal to reduce deforestation in developing countries, says Angela Anderson, director of Pew Environment Group's International Global Warming Campaign. Governments will also sketch broad goals for the new climate treaty, leaving the details for next year's negotiations, she adds.

The success of the 2009 talks hinges on whether developing countries, especially China and India, agree to control emissions, says Frank V. Maisano, an energy specialist at Bracewell & Giuliani who represents utilities, refiners, and wind-power developers.


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