Sen. John Kerry at Democratic National Convention (Photo by Paul J. Richards/Newscom)

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is heading to Poznan, Poland, next week to take part in the U.N. climate talks being held there. Kerry will serve as one of several congressional emissaries who have been charged with reporting back to President-elect Barack Obama.

But just as Kerry tells Grist magazine that he hopes the talks will lay tracks for the much heralded Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen next December (where the successor to Kyoto is expected to be hammered out), the wheels appear to be coming off of the European Union’s own climate package.

Lord Nicholas Stern, a British economist and leading climate change spokesperson, told the New York Times that he hopes Europe isn’t, “going flaky.” The NYT had reported earlier that a bloc of Eastern European nations, led by Poland and Italy, was rebelling against commitments made in a climate and energy package negotiated just last year. Stern also, however, told the Wall Street Journal he remains hopeful that good things will come out of the meetings in Poznan.

Meanwhile, the rebellion against more stringent climate goals by several E.U. member states comes at just the wrong time for those on the American enviro-left.

As the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry is positioned to help navigate any future international climate change treaty through the Senate. Of course, he and others (including Obama) are surely hoping to point to continuing progress in the E.U. as evidence that the United States, too, should charge ahead on tackling climate change, hard economic times be damned.

Will a bloc of European countries increasingly concerned about damaging their economies dig in their heels, and weaken the E.U.’s hand in the climate talks? Or will the promise of tough new emissions reduction targets in the U.S. be enough to sway any skeptics?

Keep your browser pointed to this blog, as I hope to report live from the climate talks next week, if I can obtain a press pass.

Mr. Bell is a U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Austria, and MPA student at Seattle University.