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Walkout at Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Dec. 14: India, China and 128 other countries briefly walked out of the climate change talks here today in protest against the failure of industrialised countries to make firm commitments on greenhouse gas emission cuts in the years beyond 2012.

The walkout by the developing countries followed an exchange between Australian and African delegates at a meeting called to set emission reduction targets for the industrialised countries.

Australia refused to make any commitment on emission cuts and called for a suspension of the meeting when African nations urged the industrialised countries to put up their specific emission cut numbers on the table.

The Australians argued that emissions could only be resolved at ministerial-level talks, and called for a discussion on the draft text for a long-term climate accord tabled last Friday. That text does not deal with specific emission reduction targets.

Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh and delegations from other countries walked out and met the Danish president of the conference, Connie Hedegaard, and conveyed their objections. The meeting of the special negotiating group on emissions is expected to be convened this evening.

“This was building up as the developed countries have all along refused to come up with specific emission targets,” said Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. “If the talks fail, the onus will be on the developed countries,” she said in Copenhagen.

“African countries have taken the lead and they have always been quite consistent in their stand against developed countries,” added Narain.

The African countries emit only 3 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases though they have 15 per cent of the world’s population. They had also walked out earlier this year during climate talks in Barcelona, Spain, demanding major emission cuts by developed countries.

While negotiating temperatures rose inside the Bella Centre conference venue, thousands of summit observers waited for over six hours outside in cold and snow for registration. Many left when it was announced that because of technical failure, the registration process would be delayed. “It was unbelievable. We have been waiting six hours to get registered but still have no idea when we can go in. We have missed all the major developments,” said an observer.

US funds

The US government has announced at the summit a $350 million plan to promote the use of clean energy technologies in developing countries.

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