E2 Round-up: Defining Copenhagen, solar industry woes, and playing with the climate’s DNA

Companies behind one of the technologies that promises to help slow emissions – solar energy – are hitting some bumps, reports Time magazine from the big World Future Energy Summit that kicks off Monday in Abu Dhabi.

“After a period of rapid expansion, panel manufacturers today are reeling from a pronounced supply surplus, falling prices and stagnating sales. In 2009, industry revenue plunged by nearly 40% to about $25 billion from $40 billion the previous year, according to BankAmerica Merrill Lynch alternative-energy analyst Steven Milunovich,” the story notes.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, whose island nation is among the most threatened by climate change, is using the conference to appeal for nations move past what he called only limited progress in Copenhagen.

“We do not have the luxury of time to meet, year after year, in endless negotiations. And the science of climate change means we cannot accept a watered down, minimalist treaty. After all, we cannot negotiate with the laws of physics,” he said at the summit, according to his prepared remarks. “We cannot cut a deal with Mother Nature.”

Not everyone is so sure about those last points.

ClimateWire, via the New York Times, checks in Monday with an interesting piece about policymakers trying to create the rules of the road for testing so-called geoengineering schemes.

The story highlights an upcoming conference in California in which scientists will “attempt to set guidelines for large-scale field tests of proposed geoengineering techniques, which range from employing artificial trees to suck carbon dioxide from the air to spewing massive amounts of sulfate particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight.”

“Sponsored by the newly created Climate Response Fund, the conference is being modeled on a landmark 1973 meeting, the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, that set ground rules for biotechnology research,” the story notes.