For the past two weeks, representatives from more than 180 countries have been in Bali, Indonesia, heatedly discussing how the world can create a road map for fighting climate change after 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
The meeting, which is in its final hours, has intensified the spotlight on what individual countries are doing to reduce greenhouse emissions and the role greentech will play in those efforts.
One of the most ambitions plans to come out since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began Dec. 3 comes from Germany.
Two days after the convention started, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet agreed on a policy package intended to slash Germany's greenhouse-gas emissions 40 percent by 2020.
The package includes 14 acts and ordinances, including a new goal of using renewable energy for 14 percent of the country's heating, including water heating and process heating and cooling.
The package is the first phase of a 29-point plan the government unveiled in August.
The German environmental ministry estimates the complete plan will cost €31 billion (about $45 billion), but will save more than €36 billion (about $53 million) in coal, oil and gas.
The new package must be approved by the parliament before it becomes law, but Tobias Dünow, environmental ministry spokesperson, said he expects it will get a green light.
"There might be some change in details," Dünow said. "But not in the general direction."
Great Britain is proving that being a windy island has its perks.
On Monday, U.K. Energy Secretary John Hutton proposed opening up more of the seas to wind farms in the hope of reaching a whopping 33 gigawatts of offshore wind-power capacity by 2020.
Hutton said that capacity would be enough to power all U.K. homes. Most projects don't operate at full capacity, however, and wind power is usually considered too intermittent to supply 100 percent of a country's electricity.
The U.K. already has offered seabed leases for 29 offshore wind projects that total a planned capacity of more than 8 gigawatts. The new draft plan boosts that total capacity by nearly 25 gigawatts, which equates to about £1 billion ($2.04 billion) of turbine-generated electricity by 2010, according to Spiegel Online.
The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said the bidding process and commercial terms for the additional wind-farm lease options are expected to be announced early next year.
America's Light Green Energy Bill
Even though the U.S. hasn't ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it did make a greener stance late Thursday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the country's energy bill.
Some cleantech companies took comfort in the legislation, which requires greater fuel economy for vehicles and more renewable fuels.
But others were disappointed by the Senate's rejection of $21.5 billion in renewable tax credits to get the bill passed (see Senate Rejects Green Incentives to Pass Energy Bill).
The bill now goes back to the House for approval before being signed into law by President Bush.
Quarreling with the World
Back in Bali, though, the U.S. hasn't exactly been an eager beaver.
Among the sticking points has been the United States' refusal to sign a non-binding goal for developed countries to lower their emissions to 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The European Union threatened to boycott U.S.-sponsored climate talks next month in Hawaii, where countries including China, Russia and India are expected discuss long-term emission cuts.
And earlier this week, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work that included the movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," lambasted his county for blocking negotiations.
"I am going to speak an inconvenient truth," he said, during a speech at the conference (see a video of his speech here). "My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali."
Gore told conference attendees they can do one of two things: "You can feel anger and frustration and direct it at the United States of America, or you can make a second choice. You can decide to move forward and do all of the difficult work that needs to be done."
Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, on Thursday acknowledged that talks were bogged down and added that any inclusion of numbers in the road map's text would exceed his expectations for this conference.
And on Friday, media outlets including the New York Times reported the talks were nearing a landmark agreement on global greenhouse gases.