Starting tomorrow morning, there will be twelve days of talks in Bali, Indonesia intended to begin the process of drafting a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, when the period it covers ends in 2012. This particular meeting is mostly about choosing the structure for the real negotiations. Three possibilities are likely:
- The parties agree to extend the Kyoto Protocol, keeping in place many of its institutional structures
- The parties decide to create a whole new instrument
- The talks collapse in acrimony, with no agreement
Which of these takes place will largely depend on the stances adopted by the great powers and major emitters, especially the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and the European Union.
Some questions of succession hang over the proceedings. The new Rudd government in Australia has only been in power for a week, and may not have a well developed negotiating position. More importantly, everyone knows the Bush administration will soon be out of power. Leading Congressional Democrats are attending the summit themselves. It remains to be seen what effect that will have.