Obama’s presence felt in Poznan

As the United Nations climate change conference gets under way in Poznan, Poland, there is a heavy Obama presence in the air. In hallways and negotiating rooms, I hear a multitude of languages and only recognize the words “Obama” and “Hillary.”

The world has high expectations, and we are busy trying to manage them. On the one hand, it is clear that the Obama administration will re-engage in the international negotiations, will make global warming a domestic legislative priority, and has signaled its support for cap and trade legislation in the U.S.

On the other hand, we must also explain to the world that after 8 years of inaction, it will take time for the U.S. to get its act together, put a negotiating team together, and come to some official and common positions to use as its negotiating mandate. We also have to explain that Congressional action is key and probably will come first (unlike in Kyoto, where the U.S. negotiated a treaty without congressional consent that was not ratified).

We have to explain that Congress is looking for key issues, like cap-and-trade systems, cost-containment tools like offsets, and incentives like deforestation credits, and it will not look favorably on elements such as intensity-based targets, carbon taxes or no mitigation action from developing countries.

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