Rich and poor nations clash at climate talks
Disagreements between rich and developing countries came into the open Sunday as the world's top 20 greenhouse gas emitters worked to lay the groundwork for a new deal on climate change.
The developed and developing countries, whose greenhouse gas emissions account for about 80 percent of the global total, were wrapping up two days of talks hoped to jumpstart negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
But developing countries voiced scepticism about the meeting, saying they should not be considered in the same league as major industrialised countries when deciding on future cuts to gas emissions blamed for global warming.
"India, for example, has an emission of one tonne per capita. The US is 20 tonnes per capita. So I have no idea why India should be a major emitter," Indian climate official Ajay Mathur said late Saturday.
The South African team was also highly critical of saying the meeting involved "20 major emitters" due to the gap with wealthy countries, Japanese trade minister Akira Amari said.
"I told them it's important that all countries participate in measures to tackle climate change to avoid global warming," Amari told reporters.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair opened the conference on Saturday with an impassioned call for developing nations to join the rich world in steep binding cuts in emissions for the sake of the planet.
"I was very worried about the atmosphere of the discussion," said Yuri Onodera, an environmental activist at Friends of the Earth Japan.
"Developing countries say that developed countries should keep to their promises first before talking about involving developing countries into a new deal on climate change," he said before the start of Sunday's closed-door session.
The United States is the only major industrial country to shun the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that it is unfair by making no demands of fast-growing emitters such as China and India.
But virtually all countries agreed in talks in December in Bali to be part of the negotiations to draft a successor to the Kyoto treaty, whose obligations run out at the end of 2012. The next round of negotiations starts at the end of the month in Bangkok. (AFP)
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