Gloomy faces

Empty corridors belied intense negotiations behind closed doors last night.

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At around 11:30pm, the US tabled a “bombshell” – in the words of agitated NGOs this morning – recommending removing all reference to binding emission reductions from a Bali roadmap.

The draft was distributed to journalists in the early hours by Greenpeace. It removes the distinction between developed and developing countries, recommending “enhanced action on mitigation” for all.

Four alternatives to differentiate between the action required by different countries are proposed:

-“level of economic development and significance”

-“level of economic development and greenhouse gas contributions”

-“level of economic development and energy utilisation”

-“the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and responsive capabilities”

All potential action, from national emission caps to domestic plans and measures to binding market-based or sectoral programmes, is prefaced by “as appropriate”.

This morning, Greenpeace claimed the US did not have any support for this proposal. It also said at least 5 other proposals had been tabled, one by South Africa, which was “really good”. Discussions were ongoing, it added. A US press briefing scheduled for 9:30am was postponed.

At its daily 10am press briefing, the Climate action network (CAN) said the US last night remained opposed to the wording that developed countries should cut their emissions by 25-40 per cent by 2020, relative to 1990, and global emissions should be halved by 2050, relative to 2000.

It confirmed that negotiations ended around 4am with 4 or 5 proposals on the table. The Indonesian presidency of the UN talks is due to table a new compromise text this morning.

Japan supports the US, Australia’s position is “uncertain” and Canada has remained “silent” said the NGO. Russia has raised concerns, but CAN believes these can be met.

An EU press conference scheduled for noon was curtailed – EU commissioner Stavros Dimas gave a statement but took no questions. Spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said negotiations were “very sensitive” right now.

Mr Dimas said there had been “good progress overnight” on the Bali roadmap. Agreement was reached on deforestation and capacity-building in developing countries. Adaptation and financing issues had also been resolved. This leaves on the table the issue of emission reduction guidelines, said the commissioner.

He welcomed a “text” proposed by the US as a sign of their engagement, but emphasised that the distinction between developed and developing countries is important.

An EU official confirmed the text distributed by Greenpeace was one version of two very similar texts tabled by the US last night.

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