Friday, December 11, 2009

Small island states on Friday unveiled a draft deal they say is the minimum needed to halt climate change and which answers concerns of major developing nations like China who held up talks over a similar proposal.

The draft from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) would set extremely stringent emissions reduction targets for developed nations that go far beyond their current offers and are likely to be rejected.

The draft calls for developed nations to cut emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and provide financial aid to poor countries equivalent to up to 1 percent of national income.

The group also wants a legally binding deal in Copenhagen, even though hosts Denmark say this is highly unlikely.

"Major emitters among the industrialised countries must take the major responsibility for the past and the major responsibility as we go forward," Dessima Williams, chair of the AOSIS group of 43 members, told a news conference.

Selwyn Hart, from Barbados, said the draft answered the main concerns of Chinese negotiators who rejected a similar proposal from the tiny Pacific Island state of Tuvalu. Beijing objected largely because it cast doubt over the Kyoto Protocol, he said.

"The major differences are not with content," said Hart.

Debate over the Tuvalu proposal stalled the main talks for two days, although sideline discussions on issues such as technology transfer and financing have continued.

Williams said she did not expect a repeat of Beijing's objections and had met with the G77 and China, a grouping of developing nations, to discuss the proposal.


But even if it protects the Kyoto Protocol, other elements are likely to concern the Chinese team, who say the right to develop must come before the fight against climate change.

Island states that face inundation if sea levels rise say nothing is more important than curbing carbon emissions.

"Our draft does not require developing countries to undertake quantified emission reductions," said Hart.

"However ... it is impossible for our ambitious targets to be met without action by all countries, including ourselves."

The draft calls for a cut in global emissions of 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It also aims to limit temperature rises to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels -- below the 2 degrees targeted by most major emitters.

But the delegates say their proposals are serious and they want the ambition level of the talks stepped up.

"Survival is not negotiable," said Maldives Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam. "We do not want people to walk out at the end of this conference feeling good but having done nothing."

Tuvalu delegate Ian Fry said it was not out of the question that some leaders, who arrive for a summit next week, could block a deal if it was too weak.

"It's possible if there's no intention of seriously considering a legal agreement at this meeting, a number of heads could say 'This isn't good enough'," he told Reuters.


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