A leaked Danish proposal sparked outrage at Copenhagen climate talks, with developing nations arguing it would consign the world's poor to permanent penury. Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "optimistic" an agreement would be reached.
AFP - The first cracks appeared among developing countries at the UN climate talks on Wednesday, revealing divisions between emerging giants and nations most exposed to the ravages of global warming.
Tensions surfaced despite efforts to restore calm to the 12-day negotiations after a row over an early draft text proposed by Denmark, the conference's chairman.
The tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu drove a wedge in the bloc of developing nations by calling for discussions on an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
For the first time, it would require China, India and other fast-growing high-population nations to take on legally-binding commitments to slash CO2 pollution after 2013.
The move was swiftly opposed by the big developing countries, ripping open a faultline within the so-called G-77 plus China bloc of 130 nations.
Until now, the group has stood by a diplomatic axiom that has prevailed since the UN climate convention came into being in 1992: rich countries caused global warming, and it was their responsibility to fix it.
According to this stance, only rich nations should be required to sign up to legally-binding emissions curbs under Kyoto.
But small island states and least developed countries -- which supported Tuvalu's move -- have become increasingly worried that such an approach will not rein in a dangerous surge of emissions in the future.
This pollution will come not from the industrialised world but from the high-population economies of China, India and Brazil.
Taukiei Kitara, head of Tuvalu's delegation, told AFP that the proposed constraints "would mostly remain on developed countries but also, partly, on big developing economies as well."
Kitara acknowledged that the proposal marked the first serious breach in a hitherto united front.
"We know the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is not complete and we want to create an impulse for a stronger commitment," Kitara said, referring to the landmark treaty that, under its present commitment period, imposes emissions cuts on rich nations up to 2012.
The 42-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), including Tuvalu, and the bloc of mainly African Least Developed Countries, have rejected the widely held goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as inadequate.
Only a cap of 1.5 C (2.7 F) compared to pre-industrial times would give these nations a chance of fighting off rising seas or crippling drought, they say.
The Copenhagen conference is taking place under the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
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If all goes well, more than 110 leaders from around the world, including US President Barack Obama, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of the European Union (EU), will seal a historic deal at the climax on December 18.
A framework accord would spell out national pledges for curbing heat-trapping carbon emissions and pump hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to poor countries, providing them with newer technology and the means to toughen their defences against the impact of climate change.
Further talks would be needed, probably throughout 2010, to fill in the details of the skeletal agreement.
Negotiators had sought to restore calm after a row on Tuesday over a leaked 11-day-old early text, proposed by Denmark, that apparently sought to sound out opinion amongst a select number of countries.
The G77 lashed it as an attempted stitch-up that was skewed in favour of rich nations.
But UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer insisted the draft was out of date and had no chance of being endorsed as the final version.
Many delegates expressed exasperation over the row, which they described as bogus or a distraction from the negotiations themselves.
Date created : 2009-12-09