(Reuters) – South Africa on Monday criticised a draft United Nations accord on fighting climate change as a form of “apartheid” against developing nations.
A summit in Paris is supposed to agree a global accord for tackling climate change in December, but a last week of negotiations on the draft text, which began in Germany on Monday, got off to a stormy start with developing nations saying their demands had been omitted from the pared down 20-page draft.
“It is just like apartheid,” Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s delegate who speaks on behalf of the main grouping of more than 130 developing nations and China, told the meeting.
“We find ourselves in a position where in essence we are disenfranchised,” she said, saying views of the poor had been ignored. South Africa’s apartheid system was overthrown in 1994 when Nelson Mandela became the nation’s first black president.
Developing countries said the draft, drawn up by two senior diplomats, favoured rich nations and failed to stress that developed nations needed to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to provide far more aid and clean energy technology.
U.S. delegation leader Trigg Talley said the new text could work as a basis for talks. “This document has many things that most parties cannot agree with,” he said. Rich nations want to ensure that emerging economies will commit to act.
Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s climate chief, expressed confidence the talks were on track for a deal at the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 summit in France, meant to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming that is causing more frequent and severe floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.
“We will get to an agreement by the end of Paris,” she told Reuters Television. “Perhaps the reaction here is that we went from a text that has too much in it to a text that has too little.”
The developing nations won a demand on Monday that they could re-insert national demands into the text, raising fears by some that it could again become unwieldy. The previous version ran to 80 pages.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged negotiators to drop narrow national interests.
“There is no time to waste,” he told a news conference in Slovakia. “It has been quite frustrating to see negotiators negotiating only based on their very narrow national perspectives. This is not a national issue, it’s a global issue.”