As the United Nations climate change talks resume after a Sunday break in formal negotiations, negotiators are haggling over the words that will - and will not - come out of Copenhagen.

"The Danish president [of the summit] Connie Hedegaard has agreed that there will be blanks and brackets in the texts," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu. "If the differences persist on 16 December, they will not be papered over."

Currently, there are two drafts being discussed - with a multitude of blanks and brackets - which will be adopted at the end of this summit, says Mr. Ramesh.

These are the two drafts prepared by the chairs of the Ad-Hoc Working Groups (AWG) on the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and on Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA). While the first draft deals with the second commitment period for developed countries to extend their emission reduction targets from 2013, the second draft deals with long-term future action, which could lead to a new agreement with new obligations for developing countries as well. The U.S., which is not part of the Kyoto Protocol, will also have to take up commitments under the second draft.

India's stand

India has expressed its unhappiness with six of the 46 paragraphs in the LCA draft. The three big hurdles deal with legally binding emission cuts for all, a global peaking year for emissions and the concept of an international review of the adequacy of voluntary, domestic mitigation actions.

"We have made it clear that the heads of state should not negotiate drafts or texts. That is not their responsibility," said Mr. Ramesh, making it clear that India would only negotiate the drafts till early Thursday morning. Once Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives, all the blanks and brackets that remain will have to stay. The drafts that have been finalised till that point will be adopted at Copenhagen, and translated into legal documents by the end of 2010, said Mr. Ramesh.

Many versions

Once the heads of State arrive, they are likely to make a declaration supporting the drafts. There are several versions of a declaration floating around, with the reported Danish version being soundly condemned by most developing countries. "If the Danes come out with any mischief in their declaration, then we will bring out our version," said Mr. Ramesh. The BASIC countries - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - have prepared their own declaration, which they have now merged with the African statement, to make an ABASIC version. "We are keeping it in reserve... We hope the Danish declaration would be the result of transparent negotiations process and that it would not be sprung on us out of the blue," he said.

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