UN climate talks became decidedly fractious yesterday as the rift between developing countries on one hand and the US and its allies on the other, widened amid calls to extend the Kyoto Protocol.
Divisions were also distinctly evident over other issues such as the immediate formation of the Green Climate Fund, to fast-start finance and the drawing up of a Durban Accord.
In an exceptional show of unity, Brazil, South Africa, India and China said a successful outcome in Durban depended on keeping Kyoto alive with a second round of commitments.
Indian Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan supported the Chinese position saying: “The most important issue for us in Durban is that a clear and ratifiable decision on a KP (Kyoto Protocol) second commitment period takes place. This must happen if KP parties are really committed to addressing climate change.”
But, United States played down hopes for a deal with China.
Green campaigners seized on this as a chance to remove one of the roadblocks to a deal that would save Kyoto, the only treaty that sets down legally-enforceable curbs on greenhouse gases.
But US chief delegate Todd Stern poured cold water on the Chinese position.
“It’s not my impression that there has been any change at all in the Chinese position with respect to a legally-binding agreement,” Stern told a Press conference.
He said key details had to be answered in such a pact.
“It would have to cover all major parties in a full way, so that it binds with equal force for everybody, unconditionally, (with) no escape hatches in the text,” he said.
The 12-day climate talks are essentially a three-corner wrangle gathering the European Union along with China and the United States, which are the world’s No 1 and 2 emitters.
European Union Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, fired a broadside in an apparent reference to the US saying: “In some corners, we have heard the argument that we do not need the decisions on the future here in Durban. It is said that for the next years, we should implement and spend some years thinking.
“(But) Europe believes that the world has had a lot of time to think. What we need is not more thinking. What we need is more action. We would lament if this conference was remembered only for discussions and delay.
“Europe is ready to deliver. Our legislation is built on Kyoto Protocol. We have a 20% target by 2020. And we are ready to go to 30%, provided others are also ambitious. But Europe only accounts for 11% of the global emissions.”
Hedegaard added: “The Convention and the Kyoto Protocol continue to be the foundation of our regime.
“We understand others are ready and yet others are not.
“Even if others are not, we are ready to make a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol. Now!”