COPENHAGEN – A leaked Danish document at the U.N. climate conference provoked angry criticism Tuesday from developing countries and activists who feared it would shift more of the burden to curb greenhouse gases on poorer countries.
Negotiators, meanwhile, displayed charts of data that said the current decade is on track to be the hottest on record for Earth.
At the heart of Tuesday’s clash – stemming from draft texts attributed to Denmark and China – is the determination by the more impoverished states to bear a lesser burden than wealthy, more industrialized countries in the effort to slow global warming.
Diplomats from developing countries and climate activists also complained the Danish hosts had pre-empted the negotiations with their draft proposal, prepared before the two-week conference began.
The Danish draft proposal circulating at the 192-nation conference chips away at the wall between what developed and developing nations can be expected to do to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The Danish proposal would allow rich countries to cut fewer emissions while poorer nations would face tougher limits on greenhouse gases and more conditions on money available to adapt.
A sketchy counterproposal attributed to China would extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by an average 5 percent by 2012, compared with 1990 levels.
The Chinese text would incorporate specific new, deeper targets for the industrialized world for a further five to eight years. Developing countries, on the other hand, including China, would be covered by a separate agreement that envisions their taking actions to control emissions, but not in the same legally binding way. No targets would be specified for them.
Poorer nations believe the two-track approach would best preserve the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” recognized by the Kyoto Protocol.
Such draft ideas are usual grist early in such long, difficult international talks. These two proposals were not yet even recorded as official conference documents.
“It has no validity,” key European Union negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said, speaking specifically of the Danish proposal. “It’s only a piece of paper. The only texts that have validity here are those which people negotiated.”
Earlier Tuesday, the U.N.’s weather agency boosted the sense of urgency surrounding the conference with data showing this decade is on track to be the hottest since records began in 1850, with 2009 the fifth-warmest year ever. The second warmest decade was the 1990s.