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Developing Nations Return To Climate Talks After Protests

December 14, 2009

Several developing countries temporarily withdrew their co-operation for negotiations at the UN climate summit on Monday, BBC News reported.

Some nations felt the Danish host government attempted to sideline talks on more emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol.

Speaking for developing countries, the G77-China bloc, said the Danish hosts had violated democratic process, as other delegates talked forlornly of the vast amount of negotiating left to be done before the summit concludes.

The G77-China bloc, made up of 130 nations ranging from wealthy countries such as South Korea, to some of the poorest states in the world, suspended their cooperation as they accused organizers of trying to formulate a deal behind closed doors.

Activists chanted in protest: “We stand with Africa – Kyoto targets now”.

Blocs representing poor countries vulnerable to climate change have been adamant that rich nations must commit to emission cuts beyond 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol.

However, the EU and the developed world in general, have promoted the idea of an entirely new agreement, replacing the protocol. This has caused many developing countries concern about potentially losing many of the gains they made when the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997.

These nations argue that the Kyoto Protocol is the only international legally binding instrument that has curbed carbon emissions.

Additionally, Kyoto contains functioning mechanisms for bringing development benefits to poor countries such as money for investment in clean energy projects.

Developing countries have accused the Danish chairs of ignoring their concerns during past meetings.

“It has become clear that the Danish presidency – in the most undemocratic fashion – is advancing the interests of the developed countries at the expense of the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries,” said G77-China chief negotiator Lumumba Di-Aping.

Di-Aping said the mistake Danish leaders were making had reached levels that cannot be acceptable from a president who is supposed to be acting and shepherding the process on behalf of all parties.

The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu forced a suspension last week after insisting that proposals to amend the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol be fully debated.

UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband during a news conference earlier in the day that for the developed world to commit to further cuts under the Kyoto Protocol would be “irresponsible for the climate”.

He argued that some of the world’s biggest emitters would be left without targets for cutting emissions.

Developing countries have been fiercely campaigning for a “twin track” approach, in which countries with existing targets under the Kyoto Protocol (all developed nations except the U.S.) stay under that umbrella, with the U.S. and major developing economies making their carbon pledges under a new protocol.

But much more movement is needed on the current Kyoto Protocol negotiations, according to Kim Carstensen, director of the global climate initiative with environment group WWF.

He warned that African countries and the wider G77 bloc likely would not accept non-action on the Kyoto Protocol.

“They’re really afraid that a deal has been stitched up behind their backs,” he told BBC News.

Many delegates suggested that the suspension, and the underlying tensions it has caused, could stall the chances of any meaningful agreement during the summit.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon warned that time was running out for nations to reach an agreement.

“I appeal to all world leaders… to redouble efforts to find room for compromise,” he told reporters. “Time is running out. There is no time for posturing or blaming.”

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