New deal tabled at climate talks after rebellion

DURBAN, (Reuters) – Developing states most at  risk from global warming rebelled against a proposed deal at  U.N. climate talks yesterday, forcing host South Africa to draw  up new draft documents in a bid to prevent the talks collapsing.

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane  suspended the talks in Durban after a coalition of island  nations, developing states and the European Union complained the  current draft lacked ambition, sources said.

Delegates held overnight talks on a fresh draft and are  expected to meet for a plenary session starting from 0800 GMT  today with many hopeful a deal could be reached that would  bring on board the world’s biggest emitters of the gases blamed  for global warming.

“There was a strong appeal from developing countries, saying  the commitments in the proposed texts were not enough, both  under the Kyoto Protocol and for other countries,” said Norway’s  Climate Change Minister Erik Solheim.

The European Union has been rallying support to its plan to  set a 2015 target date for a new climate deal that would impose  binding cuts on the world’s biggest emitters of heat-trapping  gases, a pact that would come into force up to five years later.
The crux of the dispute is how binding the legal wording in  the final document will be.

The initial draft spoke of a “legal  framework”, which critics said committed parties to nothing.
The new draft changed the language to “legal instrument”,  which implies a more binding commitment, and says a working  group should draw up a cuts regime by 2015. It also turns up  pressure on countries to act more quickly to come up with  emission cut plans.

The changes should appeal to poor states, small island  nations and the European Union but may be tough for major  emitters, including the United States and India, to swallow,  said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union  of Concerned Scientists.

“One of the crunch issues that has been left out is the date  by which the new agreement will enter into force, which could  still be as late as 2020 and making it no better than the  previous text on this issue,” said Tim Gore, climate change  policy advisor for Oxfam.

The delegates are also expected to approve text on a raft of  other measures including one to protect forests and another to  bring to life the Green Climate Fund, designed to help poor  nations tackle global warming and nudge them towards a new  global effort to fight climate change.

The EU strategy has been to forge a coalition of the willing  designed to heap pressure on the world’s top three carbon  emitters — China, the United States and India — to sign up to  binding cuts. None are bound by the Kyoto Protocol.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said earlier that a  “small number of states” had yet to sign up to the EU plan and  that time was running out for a deal in Durban.

Washington says it will only pledge binding cuts if all  major polluters make comparable commitments. China and India say  it would be unfair to demand they make the same level of cuts as  the developed world, which caused most of the pollution  responsible for global warming. Many envoys believe two weeks of climate talks in Durban  will at best produce a weak political agreement, with states  promising to start talks on a new regime of binding cuts in  greenhouse gases.

“A crash is still a possibility. It is going to go on all  night. That much is clear,” said Gore of Oxfam. U.N. reports released in the last month show time is running  out to achieve change. They show a warming planet will amplify  droughts and floods, increase crop failures and raise sea levels  to the point where several island states are threatened with  extinction.

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