Climate negotiators struggle to reach deal

Updated: 2011-12-10 15:01


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DURBAN - The participants in Durban's climate change negotiations have taken on "extreme and contradictory positions," making the talks "really tough," the negotiators told Xinhua here Saturday.

As a sign that the climate change negotiations have hit a rough patch, the two-week-long UN Climate Change Conference has been extended by several days.

According to the UN rules, negotiations have two days to continue. Failure to reach agreement during those extra days would mean postponing issues to the next conference of parties.

"The consolidation of the Kyoto Protocol text is making it very hard, it's not yet finalized... It takes a long time as we have to listen to all parties," Africa Group of Negotiators Chairperson Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu told Xinhua.

The end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol -- December 31, 2012 -- is approaching quickly with none of the globally binding agreements that are considered necessary to support a global response to human-induced climate change in place.

Seyni Nafo, spokesman for the Africa Group of countries, said that negations are likely to continue until Sunday.

"There is a text, a draft text for the Kyoto Protocol we are going to be analyzing, and then at 6 a.m. a draft text for the LCA (long-term cooperative action) which we will analyze," Nafo said, adding that they would stay until 6 p.m. as a UN rule stipulates they have 24 hours to finish the task.

When asked about his hopes for the outcome of the negotiations, Nafo said, "It's not about hope, it's just that this time around, it's getting to be very serious as this is the last year we have to have a second commitment period." He called the negotiations long because they were "very complex" in nature.

Nafo said that negotiations are likely to hit a snag because of sharp differences among parties and blocs.

"I think what is making the whole thing very difficult (is that) parties have taken on extreme positions, contradictory positions, and that is reflected in the negotiations,"  Nafo said. "It's on and off ... this time it's getting really tough," he said.

Nafo said developed nations are playing hard ball by taking a tough stance regarding conditions for the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding agreement to be renewed.

"It's about the conditionality some developed countries have actually put on the table in terms of having a second commitment period of Kyoto. They want to have a mandate, a new mandate to negotiate a comprehensive legally binding treaty or legally binding outcome," Nafo said.

Canada is against the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that it only covers about 15 to 20 percent of the world's emissions at most. Canada wants a treaty that includes everyone, also major developing economies such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa, also known as the BASIC group.

Mpanu-Mpanu said Africa's position had moved closer to that of Europe and developing countries that have supported the EU's calls for a legally binding agreement covering all nations to begin as soon as possible.

He said Africa would now concentrate its demands on seeking a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, according to which legally binding carbon reduction targets would continue beyond 2012. Moreover, Africa advocates the setting up of a new green fund "to keep Africa safe" from climate change, he said.

When asked what was making the negotiations harder, the Green Climate Fund or the Kyoto Protocol, Nafo was quick to say: "KP (Kyoto Protocol)."