Can Poland deliver?

I spoke at a conference organised by the Institute for Environmental Security in Brussels earlier this week. (Here’s the speech I gave, which updates the argument from The Post-Kyoto Bidding War to take account of Bali – and in particular the US’s shift from arguing for no binding targets for anyone, to arguing that if developed countries have binding targets, then so should developing ones.)

The overall theme of the conference was ‘from Bali to Poznan’ – the latter being the place in Poland where next year’s UNFCCC gathering will be held. With this in mind, the organisers secured a presentation from Poland’s Ambassador to the EU.  You might have thought that the Poles would want to rise to the occasion and capitalise on the post-Bali good cheer among Eurocrats.  Not a bit of it: instead, we had a rambling discussion that was heavy on Poland’s impressive track record in energy efficiency but light on strategy.

As one of the other speakers at the conference later remarked, Poland is essentially emerging from a rather, well, crazy period.  It needs to show other EU member states that it’s not just a big member state, but that it has big ideas as well.  A good start to that enterprise might be to have some kind of narrative about why it wanted to host the halfway point conference on the road from Bali to Copenhagen.  As things stand now, officials who work on climate change are quietly dreading the prospect of the Poles chairing the summit…