Friday, 11 December 2009 9:56 AM

David and Goliath Showdown at Copenhagen Talks - Tuvalu & PNG Refuse to Bow Down

Report on Copenhagen Talks on climate change negotiations as reported by Makereta Komai for PACNEWS and released by the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

It's been dubbed the 'David vs Goliath' fight around the corridors of climate change negotiations here in Copenhagen. Two Pacific Island Countries, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea have refused to bow down to pressure from a number of developed and developing countries to shut out discussions of their proposed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol.

The chairperson of the Conference of the Parties, Danish minister responsible for the climate change talks, Ms Connie Hedegaard had to adjourn the plenary session mid-morning in an attempt to try and break the deadlock. Tuvalu's chief negotiator, Ian Fry refused to accept the ruling from the chair to move further discussions on the proposed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to Saturday (12 Dec).

"It means that we will have little time to prepare our positions in time before our Heads of Governments arrive.We cannot support this decision, Mr Fry told the plenary immediately after the ruling was made by the chair.

"We will not accept your decision to delay the debate to Saturday. It will be extremely difficult to waste more time to look at the proposal.".

Even an assurance that the Saturday meeting will ensure an open and transparent debate on the proposed amendments were did not satisfy the two Pacific Island nations who are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).Papua New Guinea's chief negotiator, Kevin Conrad (pictured) urged for more time to be spent on discussing his country's proposal to include the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) as part of the current Kyoto financing mechanism under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

"We urgently should have a system to review the specifics of amendments that are consistent with the Kyoto Protocol, said Mr Conrad. Speaking in favour of Tuvalu, a number of the countries, East Timor, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica emphasised that the proposed amendments will not 'kill off' the Kyoto Protocol, but instead 'add more value' to the current legally binding agreement.

Senior Vanuatu delegate at the talks here said, "It's sad to see that lot of the developed countries are trying to distort the issue. Jotham Napat said most of the objections assumed that Tuvalu's proposal will totally remove the Kyoto Protocol. India, Saudi Arabia and Oman lead the campaign to shoot down Tuvalu's move to refer its amendment proposal to a contact group, as legally required under the Kyoto Protocol.

"There was a lot of support during plenary for Tuvalu. My country supports Tuvalu and the AOSIS position.

"Similarly, we support Papua New Guinea's push for REDD to be part of an extended Kyoto climate change deal.

"Because of the urgency to get an agreement negotiated, we need to move on it quickly so that we have a solid agreement by next week. We should have it now or it will be too late, said Mr Napat. Debate on the amendments to the Kyoto Protocol has forced a division within the most powerful grouping at the climate change talks - G77 and China. Chair of G77, Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping said there is no one position for G77 on the Tuvalu proposal. It's up to members to express their national interests. AOSIS chairperson, Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada refuted claims of a split within G77 & China group.

"G77 is not breaking up because the group has been around for a long time facing many differences. All together we are pursuing development out of a history of colonial and under development circumstances.

"I think if we keep our eye on that ball, then climate change challenge can set back development for us. I think there may be differences here and there but I think fundamental within G77 is one of unity and one of clarity that historical responsibility is with the developed countries and they ought to respond in a forthright and forthcoming manner. Dr Williams said differences are 'entirely normal.'

"We are definitely not getting everything from the process but be ensured that we are united."

-- Story by Makereta Komai , PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika reporting from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Related Link: Read more about COP15 on Climate Pasifika's blog