Monday, 14 December 2009

Talks suspended, Africa pushes for Kyoto Protocol discussion

Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika

The main session of UN climate talks in Copenhagen was again stalled today (Monday 14 December) after African nations accused rich countries of trying to kill the existing U.N. 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 told Reuters.

But Oxfam New Zealand director, Barry Coates disagrees with Penny Wong saying the African nations have a valid point.

"The problem from the African group is that the direction the talks are taking appears to show there is going to be a single track agreement without any assurances that there will be a compliance mechanism at the end of the day.

Mr Coates said the concern many developing and small island states are voicing is that the U.S and others have gone on the record saying they don’t want a compliance mechanism.

"Africa wants discussion first on the Kyoto Protocol but surprisingly Australia, Japan and Sweden on behalf of the European Union opposed Africa ’s position, said Mr Coates.

He said what happened today is being pushed by many as saying that Africa is trying to stall the talks.

“In reality, the Danish government and Annex 1 countries are sabotaging the negotiations, according to Oxfam NZ director.

“What appears to be happening here is that the Bali Plan of Action, which recommends a two track approach, seems to have been tossed aside.

Oxfam and other international non governmental organisations maintain their support for the position of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for a two track legally binding agreement, as proposed in the Bali Plan of Action.

“We know that AOSIS negotiators are coming under huge pressure for their strong and courageous position and we support them. At the weekend we had a big meeting of all NGOs and I made an intervention on behalf of AOSIS, which received a lot of applause.”

Friends of the Earth International also threw their support behind Africa ’s protest today.

“We support African countries demands for Kyoto targets and mandatory emissions reductions for rich countries. We denounce the dirty negotiating tactics of rich countries which are trying to change the rules and tilt them in their own favour.

“The Danish presidency has proposed informal consultations, which appeared to be an attempt to collapse two separate negotiating tracks in Copenhagen and thereby ‘abolish’ the Kyoto Protocol. This would allow rich countries to dodge their emissions reductions obligations, said Elizabeth Bast of Friends of the Earth International.

Talks failed to start as planned at 1030 GMT due to the African protest. The session was to seek ways to end deadlock on core issues, four days before about 110 world leaders arrive in Copenhagen to sign a new global climate change deal.

At a press briefing, UN’s climate chief Yvo de Boer said the Presidency of the conference would have informal talks with the negotiating parties in the early afternoon and that the talks would focus on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

“The vast majority [of countries] want to see a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol,” Yvo de Boer said. “This is not just an African concern.”

Asked whether he had heard of any countries indicating that they might boycott the conference, Yvo de Boer answered:

“I am not aware of any country threatening to block anything.”

Under the Kyoto Protocol, 40 industrialised countries are legally obliged to cut emission, mainly from burning fossil fuel, by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

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