Copenhagen: walk-out as drama builds

Copenhagen talks suspended after African delegates walk out.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

Like any good reality TV show, the Copenhagen climate talks have a bit of everything. Today there was friction and faction as many African nations walked out. They are protesting what they say are rich nations trying to even gut the decade-old Kyoto Protocol.

The developing nations are apparently accusing the host Danish government of ignoring the concerns of poorer nations less able to cope with global warming effects. Because of the walk-out, all formal talks have been suspended. That means even more closed door sessions inside restaurants and ministry offices around C-hagen.

The U.N. top official in Copenhagen has let it be known he thinks China is the single biggest obstacle to a new agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol. Let's remember that neither the US nor China ever singed on to the Kyoto agreement anyway. They're the world's top air polluters, generating about half of all the manmade greenhouse gases. In both nations any mandatory emisson cuts have been billed as economic handcuffs. Money or environment? Go with the money every time--that's been the Chinese and the American way so far. BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS

Copenhagen's celebrity density is about to spike. First major world leader to arrive is likely to be the British PM, Gordon Brown. He faces a tough political situation at home and wants to be seen as an active leader in dealing with GW. Brown's lead negotiator in Copenhagen is already warning that the talks are not making enough headway toward a mandatory emissions agreement.

The two main issues that remain: who cuts how much emissions and who pays whom. Britain is now calling for an annual GW battle fund of $100-billion by 2020.

This is supposed to be the final week of Copenhagen talks and many heads of state are expected there, including President Obama. No telling how much of the current Copenhagen disagreement is going to turn out to be political theatre, making the final outcome look like a triumph for the late-arriving national leaders.

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