Poland risks courting Durban failure over hot air

A common sport at COPs is watching the EU struggling to talk to anyone except themselves as they endure endless rounds of internal coordination. When push comes to shove in the final negotiations, they are often so inward focused that they are caught flat-footed.

Durban looks like risking a repeat of this pattern, with potentially dire consequences for a final agreement. Indeed it is perhaps more serious than ever, as it is the EU leadership itself, the Polish presidency, that is the main troublemaker.

Poland is insisting on full carryover of ‘hot air’ AAU excesses beyond 2012. This could slash real reduction effort in the second commitment period by almost 5 Gt at the global level. Other EU Parties want the opposite approach: a complete ban on carryover. Obviously cancellation of hot air would be the most responsible approach. But there are options, including those being floated inside the EU delegation, which could yield a compromise formulation that retains environmental integrity.

EU negotiators are mandated to propose a solution to the hot air issue in these negotiations, as an essential part of agreeing to CP2. Not fixing hot air could well mean Europe can’t agree to extend the KP, which would unravel the whole conference.

After months of positioning itself as willing to accept an extension of the KP in exchange for a roadmap on a future deal, it would be the height of irony if the EU itself explodes the whole delicately balanced negotiations. It would make their performance in Copenhagen look like a brilliant success.

Poland’s role here is clear. It is the EU leader, and it is responsible for ensuring the EU can negotiate firmly to achieve its main aims of a mandate for a future agreement, a second period of Kyoto, and implementation of the Cancun agreements and Bali action plan. It should stop stubbornly insisting on its own parochial interests and get on with the job it is meant to do.

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