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Climate talks in disarray after 'Danish text' is leaked

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.

People walk past a solar-looking LED board in the Bella Center, venue of the the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, Dec. 7, 2009. (Xinhua/Xie Xiudong)

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The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.

The draft text obtained by the Guardian newspaper in Britain is likely to have changed considerably since it was issued on Nov. 27 but it has already created a rift between those attending the Copenhagen Climate Change conference.

Three hours after the "Danish text" had been leaked to the Guardian, Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese chairman of the group of 132 developing countries known as G77 plus China, spelt out exactly why the poor countries he represents were so incensed. "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.

The text is a draft proposal for the final political agreement that should be signed by national leaders including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown at the end of the Copenhagen summit on Dec. 18. It was prepared in secret by a group of individuals known as "the circle of commitment" but understood to include the US and Denmark.

Five hours later, the UN's top climate diplomat responded. "This was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations. The only formal texts in the UN process are the ones tabled by the chairs of this Copenhagen conference at the behest of the parties (involved)," Yvo de Boer said.

But the representatives of developing nations say they feel betrayed by the intent of the proposals in the draft. "This text destroys both the UN convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol. This is aimed at producing a new treaty, a new legal initiative that throws away the basis of [differing] obligations between the poorest and most wealthy nations in the world," said Di-Aping.

The text may now be withdrawn because of its reception by China, India and many other developing countries. It suggests that rich countries are desperate for world leaders to have a text to work from when they arrive next week. Few figures are included in the text as these would be added later after negotiation by world leaders. However, it does seek to hold global temperature rises to 2°C, the safe limit according to scientists, and it mentions the sum of 10 billion U.S. dollars a year in aid to help poor countries cope with climate change, starting in 2012.

Last night the G77 reaction was seen by some developed world analysts as an exaggerated but fundamentally correct response to the way that the US, the UK and other rich countries have sought to negotiate. Development NGOs have been particularly scathing in their criticism.

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