Confirming previous assessment that Poznan will be sandwiched between Bali and Copenhagen, Day 1’s press conference by the USA has illustrated that reaching a even a range of short-term GHG reduction targets at Poznan is extremely unlikely.
Dr Harlan Watson–a prominent member of the USA delegation at COP13–today spoke at the first of the USA’s three scheduled press conferences in Poland. Responding to journalists questions on the US aspirations for this summit, Dr Watson stated, ‘I doubt there will be consensus on either long or short term goals in this round of negotiations’, citing the difficulties in bringing parties together on the role of the major developing country emitters.
This position has been the mainstay of the present US Govt.’s UNFCCC negotiating approach since 2001. Dr Watson stated bluntly that the US was not willing to come forward and make near-term (i.e. 2020) targets at this time.
While much media noise has been made about the new life President-elect Obama will bring to the international climate negotiations, this opening press conference is a reminder that–while the transition is underway in Washington–the current tradition still prevails in official circles.
Sandwiched as it is, Poznan was never going to be an easy conference. However, combined with Obama’s increasing focus on domestic climate and energy policy, this official US statement may slightly slow building momentum around the hope of a provisional outline for Copenhagen at Poznan.