Climate Talks Suspended after Protest by African Countries in Copenhagen

The main sessions of UN climate change summit in Copenhagen has been suspended after African nations and developing countries put a protest blaming rich countries for trying to wreck the existing UN Kyoto Protocol.

“This is a walk-out over process and form, not a walkout over substance, and that’s regrettable,” Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said of the action.

They said that countries were agitated because conference was weakening in support for the Kyoto Protocol, the core emissions-curbing treaty.

“They have walked out, I am advised, of the working groups,” one Western minister was quoted as saying by AFP on condition of anonymity.

The minister added: “This is salvageable. It depends if people want to be constructive.”

It was African countries to initiate the move. They had the support of the G77 group of developing countries.

They declined to go on with negotiations unless talks on a second committee period to the Kyoto Protocol was given priority over broader discussions on a ‘long-term vision’ for cooperative action on climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol makes biding emissions curbs mandatory for rich countries but not developing ones.

It does not include the United States, which says the Protocol is unfair as the binding targets do not apply to developing giants that are already huge emitters of greenhouse gases.

“Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, referring to a summit on Friday due to be attended by about 120 heads of state or government.

“Poor countries want to see an outcome which guarantees sharp emissions reductions yet rich countries are trying to delay discussions on the only mechanism we have to deliver this – the Kyoto Protocol.”

The minister added that the G77, for the same reason, was also blocking an agreement, made yesterday, to have core problems at the climate talks addressed informally at ministerial level in five pools, each chaired jointly by a developing and developed country.

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