African Nations Lead a "Walkout" at Copenhagen; Talks Continue (Video)


African countries raised the "nuclear option" this morning in Copenhagen, suspending climate talks in protest of wealthy nations' resistance to discuss binding emissions reductions. Though African nations have walked out for the day, they are not leaving the talks permanently.

"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. "Poor countries want to see an outcome which guarantees sharp emissions reductions yet rich countries are trying to delay discussions on the only mechanism we have to deliver this - the Kyoto Protocol."At this point, early in the final week during which world leaders arrive in Copenhagen, officials were playing down the suspension as a strategic measure to get talks back on track for tomorrow. A similar tactic was used during recent climate talks in Barcelona.

"This not about blocking the talks - it is about whether rich countries are ready to guarantee action on climate change and the survival or people in Africa and across the world," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

Friends of the Earth International's Nnimmo Bassey said: "We support African countries' demands for Kyoto targets and mandatory emissions reductions for rich countries. We denounce the dirty negotiating tactics of rich countries which are trying to change the rules and tilt them in their own favor. Developed countries are stalling these negotiations as Africa attempts to move them forward."

Friends of the Earth International's Nnimmo Bassey. Video by GreenDig News.

A plenary session for all countries has been put on hold because of the breakdown, while Annex 1 developed nations were working to restore talks. But the chances of discussing a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, wealthy nations contend, remain nil.

"An extension only of the Kyoto Protocol is not going to achieve the environmental outcome the world needs,'' Australia's Climate Change Minister Senator Wong told Australia is opposed to the Kyoto Protocol in part because it does not include the US, nor major developing countries like China and India.

"If every country sets its own limits, I don't see a deal being possible," Antonio Hill, a climate advisor for Oxfam International, told Treehugger in an interview in October. "Annex I countries, including the US need to negotiate and agree on targets -- for finance and mitigation -- up-front. Unless they do, I don't see a deal being possible and A DEAL IS UNLKELY AND, EVEN if it is STRUCK, it would most likely be highly inadequate (relative to what the science suggests is required)."

To keep catastrophic climate change at bay, scientists have said emissions cuts of 25-40% below 1990 levels are needed by 2020. Current emissions reductions offered by most of the world's rich nations are in the 11-20% range.

But Hill told the New York Times that the emerging countries' proposal requires "significant work if it is going to serve the needs of the world's poorest people."

The possibility of a summit-ending walkout at Copenhagen has been floated for months. China and India both mentioned it last month. Last week, G77 chief negotiator Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping walked out of one meeting in protest.

More to come...

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