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Developing Nations Challenge UN Climate Draft Texts

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Tough political issues are being put on the table for high-level consultations as differences of opinion between developing and developed nations continue to heat up.

China's chief climate change negotiator Su Wei warned, without mentioning names, that "some parties intend to kill the Kyoto Protocol and endanger international cooperation".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Danish hosts urged nations on Tuesday to make compromises and move forward toward an agreement on new UN pacts to mitigate climate change.

However, Wednesday did not start smoothly and there were a few showdowns before the general plenary session could proceed with heads of states and governments presenting national statements.

The draft documents for the two proposed outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP15 still contain options in brackets, clearly showing the divergent views among the nations.

The negotiations of the working group for the draft text of the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) started at midnight on Tuesday and continued till 7 am yesterday.

The US was able to add more brackets into the clause that spells out targets for developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the draft conclusion proposed by Michael Zammit Cutajar, the chair of the working group on LCA, the clauses for "long-term goal for financing" and "provision on trade measures" still remain blank, indicating that developed countries are unwilling to commit to helping developing countries adapt to and cope with the impacts of global warming.

During the plenary session, Su said he was disappointed that the working group had not resolved many thorny issues, reiterating that China firmly opposes any texts that weaken the Kyoto Protocol.

Before the general plenary session began, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen took the COP15 podium as its new president, after Connie Hedegaard resigned yesterday. She explained that "it is appropriate" for Rasmussen to coordinate with more than 115 heads of state and government leaders who had arrived and are still arriving.

Rasmussen announced at the opening of the high-level meeting that two texts based substantially on results from working groups will be presented at the high-level meetings in order to move the negotiations forward.

His announcement aroused suspicion from developing nations that there was a move to present new drafts, instead of continuing the draft texts upon which the working groups had been working almost round the clock.

Top negotiators from Brazil, South Africa, India and China urged the Danish prime minister to clarify the matter.

"It is a matter of good faith," said an Indian representative, adding that the nations must protect the "sanctity of our texts".

Su said developing countries would not accept "texts from the sky".

The Danish prime minister first evaded the request to clarify the situation, emphasizing that there was an urgent need to "start to move things forward". He said the presidency didn't intend to "put something from the top to bottom".

But the developing nations pressed him.

"We have agreed before this meeting to base our further negotiations on the outcome of working groups on LCA and KP (amendments to Kyoto Protocol)," Su said. "This is not a simple matter."

Su said developing countries were not obstructing proceedings but were opposing an "illegitimate move by some parties to put the texts to the presidency, and that would be obstructing the progress."

He said: "China came to Copenhagen with the clear purpose of implementing the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in accordance with the Bali Road Map."

Su said the outcome of the working groups forms "the only legitimate base for the further work" to bring a successful outcome to the COP15.

The showdown ended with the Danish prime minister insisting: "We haven't presented a text from the presidency."

"Procedures will continue, based on reports of two working groups to move things forward," he said.

"Three years of effort have come down to three days of action," Ban said during the opening ceremony. "Let us not falter in the home stretch. No one will get everything they want in this negotiation."

(China Daily December 17, 2009)