African negotiators walked out temporarily on Monday, accusing rich nations of ignoring their minimum demands at the Climate change talks in Copenhagen.
The moves came following fears that rich nations are planning to sabotage the process by abandoning the Kyoto protocol which binds them to certain levels of gas emissions.
The African countries feared that the developed countries are trying to kill Kyoto and pursue another non-binding agreement.
The African group move is backed by the leading negotiation group of 130 developing nations (G77+China).
Algerian environment minister Djemouai Kamel, the African negotiators’ group chairman, said on Monday there was no reason for African leaders to attend the summit while their demands were ignored.
Africa wants the Kyoto protocol, the only available legally binding agreement adopted in 1997 in Japan, retained.
“African group would not be tolerating the killing of Kyoto protocol with out having any new deal,” Mr Kamel said.
The Kyoto protocol was adopted on December 11, 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and came into force on February 16, 2005. As at November, 187 states had ratified the protocol.
The group refused to continue negotiations unless talks on a second commitment period to the treaty were given priority over broader discussions on a “long-term vision” for action on climate change.
The African group said the walkout was not aimed at blocking the deal but to rescue Africa.
On Monday, the group convened an informal meeting that was also attended by Environment minister John Michuki, where they declared they would not back down in their demands to have the protocol upheld.
Said Mr Michuki after the meeting: “We are not going to back down on our demands…we are going to join other like minded countries to push for our demands.”
The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aimed at curbing global warming. Its major feature is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
These amounts to an average of five percent against 1990 levels over the five year period 2008 to 2012.
The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilise GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.
Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on them.
Mr Kamel said: “We are completely disappointed… if we continue as we are, then we are seeing the death of Kyoto Protocol. The Bali action plan is to complete Kyoto, not to replace it.”
At the informal meeting, Dr Seth Osafo, a delegate from Ghana said those who were keen to ‘kill off’ the protocol wanted to negotiate a new ‘instrument’ that will bring on board the US.
“Some of the developed countries opposed to Kyoto have also been unable to meet the emission reduction targets that have been underlined therein,” he said.