Representatives from more than 180 countries are gathering in Bali, Indonesia, Monday to begin United Nations negotiations on climate change.
The goal of the two-week United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a roadmap for fighting climate change after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.
In the light of findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations panel that last week released a report calling global warming "unequivocal" and forecasting that climate-change costs will increase, environmentalists are hoping the convention might ultimately result in steps more drastic than Kyoto (see IPCC Report Forecasts More Trouble, Can Technology Save the World?).
Greentech entrepreneurs also plan to attend in the hope that the discussions might yield measures that are good for the industry.
"The Bali conference will be the culmination of a momentous 12 months in the climate debate and needs to produce a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future climate change deal," wrote Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the convention, in a statement on the Web site.
"The IPCC report [makes clear] that speedy and concerted international action can still avoid some of the most catastrophic projections. What is needed is a political response to what the scientists are telling us is necessary."
As negotiations gear up in Bali, they apparently are winding down in Washington.
According to The Washington Post, congressional negotiators are nearing agreement on an energy bill that would boost fuel-economy standards for vehicles to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and would require gasoline manufacturers to use at least 13 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2012, including some non-corn-based ethanol by 2013.
An informal congressional committee has been working to reconcile the vastly different energy bills passed by the House and the Senate.
Green-energy entrepreneurs were shocked earlier this month by news that two solar- and wind-friendly components -- the renewable tax credit and a standard that would require electric utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources -- might be pulled from the bill in an attempt to get it approved before Thanksgiving (see Renewable Tax Credit and Portfolio Standard Could Get Cut From Energy Bill).
While that deadline proved optimistic, congressional leaders hope to have the bill ready for a vote next week, according to the Post.
A research note by Sanjay Shrestha, a senior analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, on Friday confirmed the tax credit is no longer part of the energy bill, but said it is likely to be expended before it expires at the end of next year.
"Given a lot of near-term noise surrounding the energy bill and ongoing volatility in the sector, we expect solar stocks to be under pressure," he said, indicating that good deals might become available. "We remain confident that favorable clauses for the solar industry should be, and will be, passed during 2008."