Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Rich, poor nations feud at UN talks

AFP, BANGKOK

The first UN climate talks for the year entered their final day yesterday with negotiators still trying to hammer out a deal after familiar feuds between rich and poor nations flared.

The four days of talks had an apparently modest main goal of sorting out an agenda for the rest of the year’s negotiations that would lay the foundations for agreements at an annual UN climate summit in South Africa in November.

However, delegates said the agenda had still not been decided by yesterday morning, with one key point of dispute an insistence by many poorer countries for a greater focus on actions developed countries must take to fight global warming.

“Nothing has been decided. It’s not a very good signal,” said one European negotiator, who asked not to be named.

Delegates said a compromise could still be reached by the end of the talks in the evening.

However, they said the spirit of co-operation between developed and developing countries that led to breakthroughs at the last annual summit in the Mexican resort city of Cancun in December last year was not nearly as strong in Bangkok.

The talks began on Tuesday with poor nations demanding that rich ones agree to a second round of legally binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments under an updated Kyoto Protocol.

The first round of commitments are scheduled expire at the end of next year, but many richer countries have said they do not want to sign up to a second phase because the major polluters, the US and China, will not.

The US never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and its climate envoys have repeated this week the country has no intention of signing on.

Developing countries, including China, did not have to commit to cutting emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol and most of them maintain this should remain the case.

Throughout the Bangkok talks, many of the richer countries have pushed to have the focus for this year’s negotiations primarily on pushing forward the agreements achieved in Cancun last year.

However poorer nations say that if only the Cancun agreements are put into action by the end of next year, rich nations will not have to agree on legally binding emission cuts and the Kyoto Protocol will have largely fizzled out.

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