What should negotiators seek to accomplish during this year's international climate talks?
The United Nations' annual climate change conference takes place for the next two weeks in Durban, South Africa. The United States comes mostly empty-handed to the talks: Congress has no plans to pass legislation that prices carbon pollution, and EPA regulations controlling greenhouse gas emissions are stalled. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, with no sign of a new treaty to replace it. Negotiators from other countries say there's no way a deal can be reached without action from the U.S. Meanwhile, newly released hacked e-mails have reignited skepticism among U.S. Republicans about climate change science.
In the face of those challenges, what is possible at this year's summit? What are the prospects, in the coming years, for any kind of new global, legally binding climate change treaty? What should be the top priorities for negotiators in Durban? What's the future of the U.N. climate change process? Can it--should it--continue without prospects for action from the United States?