New Delhi: African nations led by Ethiopia, Algeria and Gambia have held up climate change talks in Barcelona, saying they are frustrated with the reluctance of rich countries to specify emission reduction targets.
Around 50 African countries on Tuesday boycotted meetings to discuss new greenhouse gas emission goals under the Kyoto Protocol treaty after 2012.
The Barcelona talks represent the final round before envoys from some 190 nations meet in Copenhagen in December to try conclude a new climate-protection treaty.
Negotiations at the Copenhagen meet would be stymied if African nations do not attend, said Raman Mehta, senior manager, policy, ActionAid India, who is at the Barcelona talks. “The key to unlocking the gridlock” is “mitigation targets from developed nations”, Mehta said.
Fixing responsibility: A file photo of smoke emanating from a sugar refinery in Euskirchen, Germany. Wolfgang von Brauchitsch / Bloomberg
The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that binds signatory countries to control global warming. The UN needs all parties to the 1997 Kyoto agreement to agree on an extension on caps on greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The US has not signed the treaty.
Many of the rich countries have refused to set emission reduction targets. The US is negotiating a climate change Bill in its Senate, but that is unlikely to be passed before the climate change conference at Copenhagen.
“For the last three-four years, we are just discussing means and ways of implementation, elements which are broad and not really concrete,” said Kamel Djemouai, an Algerian delegate, who also chairs the African group. “But Africa and Africans are suffering now, dying now, and rich countries are not able to take action or express what their ambition will be.”
Djemouai added that it was illogical to ask developing countries to act now. “Most developing countries are prepared with nationally appropriate mitigation actions. How can we discuss developing countries when we don’t have developed nations’ targets?” he asked in a press conference in Barcelona.
A group of developing nations that includes India and China has supported the move. “The G-77 (Group of 77) and India support the call as it emerges out of pure frustration, as again it shows the developed countries’ intransigence on the issue,” an Indian delegate said from Barcelona, but declined to be named.
The G-77 countries, in a statement supporting the African bloc’s move, said: “Walking in and walking out is part of full engagement of the process. We don’t see any differences. It is a hiccup but it will focus the minds of developed countries and the chair of the contact group on what is critical.”
The G-77 and China also said any move to kill the Kyoto Protocol would be “fundamentally objectionable”.
In another press conference, G-77 said: “As 2012 is nearing, Copenhagen must produce new emission targets so that there is no legal vacuum in the Kyoto Protocol. Most important of all Copenhagen outcomes are mitigation targets for the second commitment period, starting 2012. Failure to do so will be failure of annex 1 countries (industrialized nations).”
The group added there were clear signals that developed nations did not want to negotiate a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
The US, backed by the European Union, had floated the idea of killing the protocol during a Bangkok meeting in October. The Kyoto Protocol, while binding developed nations to legally mandated emission targets on account of their historical emissions, says developing nations will undertake “mitigation actions” only when supported through finance and technology by rich countries.
Mehta said the hold-up by the African nations might lead to more time allocated for meetings to discuss mitigation targets for rich nations. These countries are also likely to demand finance from developed countries, he said.
Meanwhile, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed said on Tuesday that the country will host a summit on 9-10 November on dangers posed by climate change to developing nations, PTI reported.
Bloomberg and PTI contributed to this story.