Deadlock threatens Copenhagen climate deal … but don’t worry, the planet will be saved by brave politicians at the last minute of the last day

  • Date: 14/12/09

Financial Times: Attempts to break the deadlock between rich and poor countries at the UN’s Copenhagen climate conference made little headway on Monday as poor countries refused to budge on how any agreement should be structured . Several leaders, including Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, and Angela Merkel, German chancellor, doubted a deal would be reached by Friday, when the negotiations are due to end.

“It is not certain yet that we can reach an agreement,” Ms Merkel said in Berlin. “There is a lot of work still to be done in the next few days.”

The divisions at the conference burst into the open on Monday when African nations boycotted one working group, halting negotiations for hours.

The temporary halt in the talks came just four days before world leaders are supposed to converge on the Danish capital to complete a deal, and underlined that developing countries remain at loggerheads with the US, Europe and their allies over how to share the burden of fighting global warming.

Much of the tension is focused on whether to keep alive the Kyoto protocol – the existing international climate agreement struck in 1997 – as part of a new deal or replace it with an entirely new treaty.

Developing countries, including China, India and Brazil, want to keep the Kyoto process because it commits developed countries to legally binding emissions cuts without making the same requirements of poorer nations.

But developed countries, led by the US, want a new framework that binds China and other emerging economies to targets.

African leaders on Monday accused Denmark, which is chairing the conference, of trying to sideline the Kyoto protocol from negotiations and said they would not take part in the morning’s talks as a result. Other developing countries backed their stance, leading to the suspension.

“The Kyoto protocol is of paramount importance to us,” said Mama Konate, chief delegate for the African nation of Mali. “We can never accept the killing of the Kyoto protocol.”

Talks have so far proceeded along a “two-track” process, including both the Kyoto protocol and the so-called Long-term Co-operative Action working group. The US is involved in only the latter of the two because it never ratified the Kyoto treaty and has made clear that it is not willing to join.

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