14 Dec 2009:
Poorer Nations End Walkout After Protesting Plans to Scrap Kyoto
A large bloc of developing nations called a halt to a half-day walkout at the climate summit on Monday, ending a protest over moves by the world’s industrialized nations to abandon the Kyoto climate protocol
. The talks were suspended because of the action by the G-77 group of developing nations, which accused the world’s wealthy countries of wanting to do away with the Kyoto treaty as the basis of a new agreement. But Danish officials persuaded the G-77 nations to return after assuring them that the conference would seriously consider their demands for an extension of the Kyoto treaty. The U.S., the U.K, and other wealthy nations have said that the Kyoto protocols should be scrapped because they do not require powerful developing nations, such as China, to agree to binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. But the developing nations fear that any new treaty will not include stringent emissions cuts for the world’s largest historical emitters, such as the U.S.
“The killing of the Kyoto Protocol, I can say, will mean the killing of Africa,” said Mama Konate, a
member of Mali’s delegation at the talks. “Before accepting that, we should all die first.” Ed Miliband, Britain’s energy and climate change secretary, said the conference’s Danish hosts want to leave open the question of whether Kyoto would provide the basic framework of a new agreement, and whether a final treaty — to be completed next year — would exempt developing nations from firm emissions targets.
As the G-77 action temporarily derailed the talks, the site of the summit, the Bella Center, was a scene of confusion Monday as thousands of journalists, lawyers, activists, and members of non-profit groups waited futilely most of the day for accreditation
. Workers at the Bella Center were overwhelmed with people trying to get into the conference as the second week of talks began. Lines of people seeking accreditation formed in the early morning and the queues barely moved all day as people waited in freezing weather to get into the meeting.
Speaking at the conference on Monday, the U.S. Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, unveiled a five-year, $350-million international plan to deploy clean technology in developing countries
. Chu said the plan would include distributing solar lanterns to poor households and promoting the spread of energy-efficient appliances in poor nations, where people are forced to use old refrigerators and other electricity-guzzling devices.
On Sunday, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, warned in a sermon in Copenhagen that selfishness and fear were preventing individuals and nations from taking the bold steps needed to slow global warming
, which he warned could cause environmental devastation around the globe. Joined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and other religious leaders, Williams made a strong plea for action in a sermon at Copenhagen’s Lutheran cathedral, Church of Our Lady. “We are afraid because we don’t know how we can survive without the comforts of our existing lifestyle,” Williams said. “We are
afraid that new policies will be unpopular with a national electorate. We are afraid that that younger and more vigorous economies will take advantage of us — or we are afraid that older, historically dominant economies will use the excuse of ecological responsibility to deny us our proper and just development.” Williams warned that this paralyzing sense of fear and selfishness would deny future generations “a stable, productive, and balanced world to live in” and instead leaver them a world of “utterly chaotic and disruptive change, of devastation and desertification, of biological impoverishment and degradation.” After Williams’ speech, the cathedral’s bells — along with bells in churches throughout Europe — rang 350 times to signify the goal of limiting concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.
Over the weekend, representatives of industrialized countries warned that the conference could not reach its goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas reductions unless major developing nations, such as China, also agree to binding cuts in CO2
. Noting that a six-page draft of a climate treaty does not call for China, India, Brazil, and other developing nations to commit to specific CO2-reduction targets. “That text is a reflection of where negotiators have got to, but it’s a long way from what we need,” said Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong. Noting the need for all major economies to make significant cuts — and not just to present to “aspirational” goals of CO2 reductions, a stated in the current draft — Wong said, “This is one of those situations where we’re all in it [together].” The U.S.’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, also called on large developing economies to make firm emissions reduction pledges
. “The current draft didn’t work in terms of where it is headed,” said Stern.
In a move moderating China’s position, the country’s chief climate negotiator, He Yafei, said that China would not insist on receiving money from a global fund
being established to help poorer nations adapt to global warming and develop renewable sources of energy. “Financial resources for the efforts of developing countries [to combat climate change are] a legal obligation,” He told the Financial Times
. “That does not mean China will take a share — probably not.” He Yafei sharply criticized Stern last week for suggesting that China, with its booming economy, should not receive such funds. But He reiterated that that the refusal of wealthy nations, particularly the U.S., to commit to large emissions reduction targets is the main obstacle to forging a climate treaty in Copenhagen.
Over the weekend, Danish police arrested nearly 1,000 people
as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of the Danish capital calling on conference delegates to take tough action to fight climate change. Saturday’s large rally was mainly peaceful, but hundreds of members of militant environmental groups threw bricks and smashed windows in Copenhagen, prompting the arrests. Some protesters and delegates criticized the police as being overzealous.