It was a dramatic opening to the second week of the United Nations climate change talks here on Monday, with African nations forcing a half-day suspension in protest against efforts by rich countries to "kill Kyoto."
The discussions resumed later after the Danish hosts promised a larger focus on the Kyoto Protocol, following a representation by major developing countries, including India.
Ignoring the Kyoto Protocol in favour of a proposed new Copenhagen accord "means that we are going to accept the death of the only one legally binding instrument that exists now," said Kamel Djemouai of Algeria, who heads the African group, explaining why it walked out of the plenary in the morning.
The African protest was supported by other developing countries, including India. During the informal ministerial discussions on Sunday, "we spent five hours discussing the LCA [Long-term Cooperative Action] draft. Only one hour was spent on the KP [Kyoto Protocol] draft," Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu. "The Africans felt that there was a complete imbalance on the two-track approach. We support that."
"They are speaking of a train of hope. If one of the tracks for the train is removed, what will happen? There will be catastrophe," said a Nigerian negotiator. "We cannot agree to any removal of the Kyoto track."
Developing countries, including India, want to extend the Kyoto Protocol, under which rich nations — except the U.S. — have emission targets. Many rich countries, however, want to merge the Kyoto Protocol into a new deal with emission reduction obligations for developing countries, as well as all developed countries, including the U.S.
"The Ministers from India, China, Brazil and South Africa met with the Danish president [of the summit], and now the negotiations are back on track," said Mr. Ramesh. "We extracted a commitment that we will ...continue to follow a two-track approach, with equal emphasis on both tracks."