I’m talking, of course, about the international climate policy negotiation season. Around this time a year ago, as the leaves turned, the air crisped, and America’s attention focused on the gridiron, the diplomatic focus narrowed to New York and a United Nations special meeting on climate change.
There was so much hope in New York. It was the unofficial kickoff to a season that included climate discussions at the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh and then the COP 15 negotiations in Copenhagen. As we all know, it was a season that ended with little accomplished. But that was last year.
This season, the climate discussion schedule is jam-packed and will once again kick off in New York.
The United States will take part in meetings on Sept. 20-21 for representatives from 17 countries that are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The gathering is called the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and it is aimed at building on the failed negotiations of COP 15.
If the New York meetings are the start of the season, it’s safe to say that talks earlier in the month in Geneva are the warm-up.
On Sept. 2-3, 45 leaders met to discuss important issues about global climate change including financing the efforts to combat the problem. The discussions were described as “constructive,” and Patricia Espinosa is quoted saying, “finance is one of the key issues in the resolution of the climate problem." Espinosa’s opinion matters because she will be chairing the COP 16 UN Climate Summit in Cancun this November. But let’s play one game at a time here.
The last tune-up before COP 16 comes in October when negotiators from 194 of those nations that are part of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change meet in Tianjin, China. Once the Tianjin meetings are over, the world’s attention will turn to Cancun.
The COP 16 meetings in Cancun come at a precarious time; after the mid-term elections in the United States, but before any new senators and representatives are sworn into office.
Who knows who will be playing ball by that time anyway? It’s a long season. And, more than likely, the result won’t be any different than last year.