Denmark’s top climate negotiator quits ahead of talks

COPENHAGEN, (Reuters) – Denmark’s top climate policy  negotiator has resigned with less than two months to go before  the world meets in Copenhagen to agree on a new deal to curb the  effects of climate change. 

Thomas Becker, who has been called the right hand man of  Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, resigned last  week and was replaced by senior diplomat Steffen Smidt, a  ministry official said yesterday. 

The move so close to the Dec. 7-18 meeting coincided with  growing worries about whether governments will reach a deal  after talks in Bangkok made little progress. Only one more  meeting, in Barcelona next month, remains before negotiators  come to Denmark.
  
Although the host’s chief negotiator can wield influence as  a broker behind the scenes, Denmark’s own position is tightly  tied to European Union policy, and Becker’s absence was seen as  unlikely to change an outcome which will be decided primarily by  the big powers.  

Becker is credited with the idea of holding the climate  change conference, which Hedegaard will chair, in the Danish  capital.

Becker could not be reached for comment but Danish media  have speculated that his resignation stemmed from differences of  opinion between the ministry and the prime minister’s office  over the level of ambition for the December meeting.
  
Hedegaard told Danish broadcaster DR on Sunday that  cooperation with Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has never  been closer, and denied any sort of a rift.
  
She called Becker’s resignation “sad.”

“However, it is purely an administrative matter which I  therefore have no comment on,” she said on a DR current affairs  programme.

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