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article imageDanish document causes storm at Copenhagen climate negotiations

By Stephanie Dearing     Dec 9, 2009 in Environment
The second day of negotiations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was thrown into an uproar over a leaked document which is a draft agreement for the Copenhagen negotiation.
Denmark - The document, coined the Danish text, had been released to The Guardian. The 13-page document is a draft agreement on emissions controls and reductions said to have originated with a group known as the Circle of Commitment, a group which the Guardian said includes the United States and Denmark.
After the document came to the attention of the G77, an uproar ensued, with developing nations accusing developed nations of participating in back room deals to protect their interests at the expense of the poor nations of the world. The emission reductions negotiations have been fraught with tension for developing nations, which have threatened to walk away from the negotiations several times in the run-up to Copenhagen. 50 African nations walked out of talks in Barcelona.
When confronted with the Danish text, the United Nations pointed a finger at the Danish Prime Minister, saying Rasmussen had drafted the agreement for discussion purposes only. The document was described as an "informal paper" and had been given to China, Brazil, South Africa and India weeks before the conference.
Lumumba Stanislas Di-Aping, Sudan's Ambassador to the United Nations, and Chairman of the G77, slammed the text, saying it threatened the negotiations. The G77 consists of 132 of the world's developing nations and China. The issue, said Di-Aping, is the draft agreement puts rich nations at an advantage, stipulating they will not have to reduce emissions much in the next ten years, while requiring developing nations to reduce their emissions at about twice the levels propsed for developed nations. Di-Aping said "The text robs developing countries of their just and equitable and fair share of the atmospheric space. It tries to treat rich and poor countries as equal," Di-Aping said that developing nations felt betrayed by the so-called discussion paper. Representatives from developing nations were also angry because they saw the Danish draft agreement as circumventing negotiations, and resented being excluded from what is seen as a back room deal.
An unconfirmed source reported that Di-Aping was very emotional when he announced news of the draft agreement to an ad-hoc gathering of approximately 100 African leaders. The source, Adam Welz, reported "He did not start his speech immediately. Instead he sat silently, tears rolling down his face. He put his head in his hands and said “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The room was frozen into silence, shocked by the sight of a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting such strong emotion. He apologised to the audience, but said that in his part of Sudan it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.” After a rousing speech that focused on the unfairness of the draft agreement, attendees of the meeting engaged in an impromptu demonstration in the Bella Center.
Developing countries are now split, with one faction wanting legally-binding emission reductions that are stricter than what has been proposed. On the other side of the table are nations experiencing rapid growth, who view emission reductions as prohibitive to economic growth and prosperity.
Environmental groups are also incensed by the Danish text.
In the meanwhile, it is said that the success of the Copenhagen negotiations rests on an agreement between China and the United States. Today a warning was issued that the world has only ten years in which to cap emissions, or else the world will undergo irreversible climate change.
More about Copenhagen, Greenhouse gas emissions, Lumumba stanislas di-aping, Climate change negotiations, G77
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