The developing nations group known as the G77, which actually represents some one hundred and thirty nations, as well as the small island states walked out of the Copenhagen Summit today in protest over the way the talks are progressing.
They did so for two reasons. First is their fear that the developing nations are putting the Kyoto Protocol to one side and instead focusing on a completely new agreement. Only the Kyoto Protocol provides the framework for legally binding emissions targets – something they see the developed nations seeking to avoid.
The second reason is more about process – they are concerned that the developing nations are playing a game of brinkmanship, leaving key issues to the last few days so as to steamroller developing nations into an agreement they see as detrimental. They fear that key decisions will be made by G20 leaders on the final day of the summit.
The Kyoto Protocol is problematic for several of the developed and developing nations. First, the US Congress has failed to support it. Second, the treaty has not been signed by China or India and they have made clear that they have no intention of doing so, seeing it as a road-block to their rapid economic development. Third, the treaty fails to deal with some of the issues now on the table and would need substantial re-writing.
The walk out is a dramatic tactical move by the developing world, who are making their presence strongly felt in Copenhagen. “They will not be treated as pawns in a giant game of global chess”, said one spokesperson.
Other countries are reacting angrily to this development. “There is so much yet to do and now we are spending our time pleading with these nations to come to the table”, said Australian Senator Wong, who is working on securing the return of the walk out countries.
A new proposal is floating as a result of informal discussions held on Sunday. There is a suggestion that there be a "twin track" approach, whereby countries with existing targets under the Kyoto Protocol (all developed nations except the US) stay under that umbrella, with the US and major developing economies making their carbon pledges under a new protocol. This may appease the G77 and bring them back to the table.
It is expected that negotiations will begin again later today or early tomorrow.