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World leaders wait as negotiators bicker

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS,

Copenhagen : Leaders from 130 countries around the world were forced to wait it out Friday as negotiations to draft a political declaration at the Copenhagen climate summit kept missing deadline after deadline.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen had convened an “informal high level event” from 10 a.m. to noon, where heads of government, including India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were expected to speak.

But Rasmussen was stuck as negotiations over the political declaration draft hit yet another roadblock, thanks to attempts by some rich countries to reintroduce sections that had been rejected earlier.

The so-called Umbrella Group – US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – want developing countries to say by when they will stop raising their emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. They also want actions taken by developing countries to control emissions to be under international scrutiny.

This has been opposed by India, China and other developing countries who point out that rich countries have put almost all the excess greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide – in the atmosphere now, and asking developing countries to cap emissions will affect their growth.

While the bickering continued, 90 minutes of the 120 scheduled for the “informal high level event” passed without anything happening. Manmohan Singh sat around for some time, then got up to greet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.

The prime minister then started to walk purposefully away out of CCTV camera range, greeting his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd on his way. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Shyam Saran followed Manmohan Singh.

The media and most delegates had been kept out of the plenary hall due to lack of space and could only follow proceedings through CCTV monitors.