Developing nations united on Kyoto Protocol, EU, US differ

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Developing nations spoke as one on Monday in calling for the continued functioning of the Kyoto Protocol, while the European Union (EU) and the United States differed on what should emerge from two weeks of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China at the opening plenary session of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, head of the Sudanese delegation Ambassador Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim said developing countries reject developed countries' objective of "concluding another legally binding instrument that would put together the obligations of developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and similar actions of developing countries."

"This would revoke the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and historical responsibility under the convention by imposing these obligations as well on developing countries under the guise of a 'shared vision,'" said Ibrahim, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, developed countries have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. Pressure was mounting for developed countries to commit to ambitious targets on emission cuts and funding for developing nations beyond 2012.

The Group of 77 and China also criticized industrialized countries for their attempt to "shift responsibility" of addressing climate change on developing countries.

There is "a huge gap in developed countries leadership in modifying their longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions" as required by the convention, he said.

"On the contrary, developing countries are now being required to take the leadership in cutting emissions while developed countries are continuously increasing their emissions and hence continuously over-occupying the global climate space," he added.

The African Group insisted on the full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol as the only legally binding instrument of the UNFCCC.

"The Convention should never be undermined. The Kyoto Protocol must survive and continue functioning as the main and most important implementing instrument for the Convention," the African Group said at the opening plenary session of the conference.

Developing Nations Lauded

Developing nations won recognition from the UN climate chief for their contributions to global efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and the "encouragement" on developed nations to do more.

"What we see happening is that all of those major developing nations are coming forward with exactly those commitments" on emission control, UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer told a press conference on Monday.

De Boer spoke highly of the efforts by China, which announced last month that it is going to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of the GDP in 2020 by 40 percent to 45 percent against 2005 levels.

"If you look at the announcement that was made by China alone, that accounts for about 25 percent of the emission reductions that we need to see in order to avoid more than 2 (Celsius) degree temperature increase," he said.

Commitments by developing nations put "a huge amount of encouragement on industrialized nations to increase their level of ambition," he said.

Binding Deal or Political Agreement?

Ahead of the Copenhagen conference, EU leaders have agreed that the Copenhagen process should lead to "a legally binding agreement" for the period starting Jan. 1, 2013.

Swedish Environment Minister Andeas Carlgren, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, said in a statement on Monday "the EU's aims are unchanged: reaching an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen is essential."

The EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with the levels of 1990.

But the United States still balked at a binding deal in Copenhagen. A top U.S. negotiator told a press conference on Monday that the Copenhagen conference should produce "a political agreement," not "a legal treaty."

U.S. President Barack Obama, who had originally scheduled a trip to Copenhagen for the early stage of the conference, now will join more than 100 other world leaders for the later, more crucial stage of the conference next week.

The United States has proposed cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 against 2005 levels.

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