Saturday, December 10, 2011

Durban climate change talks: false text diverts race to reach deal

Fiona Harvey and John Vidal in the Guardian (UK): A fake negotiating text has been circulated at the UN climate talks in Durban in what some delegates believe to be a deliberate attempt to derail the process, which is already in danger of failure because time is fast running out to clinch a deal. The talks were scheduled to finish on Friday evening but ran on through the night, for the second night running, and will not finish until late afternoon on Saturday.

In what could have been a bizarre mistake, or else a ploy to sabotage the talks, the fake text was sent to delegates with a note that it had been drawn up by Mexico, the EU, the US and the Basic countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China. It was dismissed by several of the countries named, who said it was different to their position on key details.

In particular, the text said work on a new climate agreement should start in the first half of 2012, when in fact the countries named want the new phase to begin immediately, and it said a new legal instrument should be adopted with effect from 2020, whereas the EU wants a text saying "no later than 2020".

It also leaves out any new interpretation of the "common but differentiated responsibilities" (the principle by which developing countries were not expected to undertake legally binding cuts in carbon emissions), and gives a wrong date for reassessing the ambition of emissions-cutting commitments.

If the text was a forgery, it was a poor one: it was headed with the wrong date (Friday 10 December, instead of Saturday 10 December) and was printed in the wrong typeface (Arial, instead of Times New Roman) for an official document....

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