Copenhagen Summary: Day 8

Climate talks in Copenhagen hit a low point on Monday, as delegates from developing nations walked out on talks for several hours to protest what they said was an effort by industrialized nations to do away with the Kyoto Protocol.

The walkout highlights the tense issue concerning what form a new climate treaty will take. Will it preserve and extend the Kyoto Protocol for rich nations, and include a separate agreement for developing countries and the US? Or will it take the form of a single agreement replacing Kyoto and encompassing all countries?

Developing nations want to see the first outcome. Delegates from some 130 developing countries, including China, Brazil, India, and South Africa, walked out of the main negotiations when Danish Minister Connie Hedegaard, who is presiding over the conference, suggested moving Kyoto discussions into informal sessions to speed the process of developing a main text by the end of the week.

Delegates from the developing nations said this move was the first step in killing the Kyoto Protocol. 

After nearly five hours, negotiations resumed monday afternoon, after Hedegaard assured delegates in private that she was not attempting to sidelind Kyoto, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the US and China continued to butt heads over the issue of emissions cuts. The United States insisted that without stringent verification of China’s pledges to reduce energy intensity, it cannot support any deal. However, China said that as a matter of principle it will not accept outside monitors to ensure that it is living up to its word, the New York Times report.

So, while negotiators worked late into the night to make up for lost hours, it appears that no progress has been made on the major issues. 

Furthermore, ground has been lost on a deal to conserve tropical forests, according to a Guardian report. A leaked text for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme reported shows that all targets for ending deforestation have been cut, along with safeguards for the protection of natural forests.

Former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore made his appearance a the conference on Monday. Together with Danish Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, he presented a scientific report that concludes snow and ice are melting significantly faster than previously thought. 

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