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Developing nations walk out of Climate Conference

The African countries, with the support of the G77 group of developing countries, are against an EU proposal to replace the Kyoto agreement with a new, and possibly watered-down, version.

The Kyoto Protocol ties the rich countries – but not developing countries – that have ratified it to binding emissions curbs. It does not include the United States, which says the Protocol is unfair as the binding targets do not apply to developing giants that are already huge emitters of greenhouse gases.
A first round of pledges under Kyoto expires at the end of 2012, and poorer nations are seeking a seven-year commitment period.

Emergency cord
"Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week," said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.

The walkout delivered another blow to the summit which has already been marred by spats between China and the United States.

As campaigners warned negotiators had five days to avert climate chaos, ministers acknowledged they had to start making giant strides before the arrival of 120 heads of state for the summit’s climax on Friday.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate change convention, played down all the commotion, saying that the negotiations would get back on track in the early afternoon.

"The vast majority of countries here want to see the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol," he said.  "I’m not aware that any countries are trying to block anything."

"Where are we on the journey up the mountain? I think we are about halfway,  I think we are queuing up for the cable car and the rest of the ride is going  to be fast, smooth and relaxing," he quipped.

An African bloc walkout during prepatory talks in Barcelona in November proved unpopular with other developing countries, in particular some small island nations.

After a five hour boycott of working groups, Africa returned only after receiving guarantees that talks on the future of the Kyoto Protocol would not be sidelined.

"I think this is not just an African concern," said Yvo de Boer at a press conference. "The vast majority of countries here want to see an extension of Kyoto."

 Radio Netherlands/ Expatica