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Three Days to Go Amid Major Differences at Copenhagen Climate Conference

The aim is to work out a deal or at least a viable framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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Heads of state and government have begun arriving in Copenhagen for the final three days of climate change talks. The aim is to work out a deal or at least a viable framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but major differences remain.   

In this second and last week of discussions, environment ministers joined their country delegations and negotiations have gone through the night to try to work out differences.

In Wednesday's opening session, those differences and tensions were evident over plans by conference host Denmark to put a new text of proposals on the table for consideration.

Several delegations, including Brazil, India and China, objected and complained of a lack of transparency. 

Conference host, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, tried to move proceedings along.

"The world is expecting us to reach some kind of agreement on climate change, not just continue discussing procedures, procedures," said Rasmussen.

But to little avail, China's delegate countered.

"I think the matter is not just procedural, procedural, procedural.  Actually, it's a very serious issue of substance," he said.

Disagreement remains over the extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date.  Kyoto required the industrialized nations that signed it to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but makes no such demands on developing nations. Now, developing and poor countries generally want Kyoto extended alongside a second track longer-term agreement.  Highly industrialized nations favor a single new agreement requiring all to participate.

Speaking for the developing nations of the G77 group plus China, Sudan's assistant president, Nafie Ali Nafie accused rich nations of trying to dismantle Kyoto for a new, but weaker agreement.

"We will oppose an agreement in Copenhagen which in any way results in the Kyoto Protocol being superseded or made redundant," said Nafie.

Core issues include commitments to cut greenhouse gases which are blamed by most scientists for the gradual rise in temperatures around the world.  Still unresolved differences remain over who cuts emissions, by how much, how much will it cost and who will pay.

And, as world leaders begin to gather here in Copenhagen, others want to make their voices heard.  Outside the conference center on Wednesday, police pushed back several hundred demonstrators, protesting the lack of progress in the talks.
 

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