Environmental campaigners have accused rich countries of trying to strong-arm poor nations into an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen summit.
A draft text circulated at the talks, co-ordinated by the Danish government, included references to commitments from developing countries to curb emissions by 2020. Such commitments would be required in return for as yet unspecified amounts of financial assistance from the rich world.
Almost all the big emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil and Mexico – have already made commitments to curb the future growth of their emissions. Some of these would only be brought into effect if sufficient financial assistance was forthcoming from rich countries.
Rich countries, which are being pressed to agree up to $100bn a year in financial assistance for the developing world by 2020, want in return a strong legal commitment from big developing economies that they will fulfil the measures to curb emissions that they have promised.
But some rapidly industrialising nations have resisted these demands, arguing that financial subsidies from the rich world should be seen as “reparations” for the damage that industrialised countries have wrought through their output of greenhouse gases.
Environmental groups last night said the pressure exerted by the developed world to draw emerging economies into legally binding commitments was unfair. They accused the Danish government of colluding with rich countries in drawing up the draft text.
But the host nation rebuffed the claims, saying it had held meetings with as many countries as possible.
Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF Global Climate Initiative, said: “The behind-the-scenes negotiations tactics under the Danish presidency have been focusing on pleasing the rich and powerful countries rather than serving the majority of states who are demanding a fair and ambitious solution.”
Some emerging economies, including China and India, want any agreement at Copenhagen to take the legal form of a continuation of the Kyoto protocol, because under that agreement they carry no legal obligation to curb their emissions.
However, the US will not agree to join the Kyoto protocol, insisting any new agreement should take a new legal form, although it could contain some aspects of the Kyoto accord.