Africa has ace up her sleeve

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Copenhagen - The climate change conference in Copenhagen has seen interesting trade-offs with developing countries using the Kyoto Protocol as a bargaining chip.

The negotiations were derailed on Monday after developing countries refused to take part until rich nations agreed to put the Kyoto Protocol on top of the agenda.

Negotiations are said to be taking a form of continental mandates with groups emphasising on the needs of their respective regions.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica confirmed that the G77 group, led by African countries, is once again participating in the talks after the Kyoto Protocol issue was brought back as part of the talks.

The group, which includes big economies like South Africa, India, China and Brazil, will continue to stick to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility as part of the negotiating strategy. The meeting agreed that there was no need to amend both the Bali Action Plan and Kyoto Protocol.

Sonjica said the key issue was whether developed nations were willing to deliver on the crucial commitments of the Kyoto Protocol. Poor countries fear that failure by the industrialized nations to commit to the Kyoto Protocol may damage the 1997 treaty, which committed rich nations to reduce greenhouse gases, with financial penalties for failure.

Asked what was likely to become South Africa's compromise position in the talks, Sonjica said Africa had "a plan in the back pocket" but this would only be revealed if a deadlock is declared at the summit.

Meanwhile, Sonjica said South Africa will be prepared for any eventuality.

"We have all agreed that when the heads of state arrive, they should not be dealing with the details of the text, they must deal with the recommendations that we would have put before them and South Africa will be ready for any eventuality," Sonjica told reporters as negotiators deliberated a common treaty ahead of the heads of states' arrival on Thursday.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to arrive in Copenhagen two days earlier than planned in a bid to bolster the talks. Also spotted at the venue on Tuesday was Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger who was expected to speak to reporters later in the day.

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