chaotic talks

COPENHAGEN - Developing countries walked out of working groups at the UN climate talks yesterday, sources said.

COPENHAGEN - Developing countries walked out of working groups at the UN climate talks yesterday, sources said.

They were angry that the conference was weakening in support for the Kyoto Protocol, the core emissions-curbing treaty.

"They have walked out, I'm advised, of the working groups," one Western minister told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The minister said: "This is salvageable. It depends on whether people want to be constructive."

The move was unleashed by African countries that had the support of the G77 group of developing countries, they said.

They refused to continue negotiations unless talks on a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol were given priority over broader discussions on a "long-term vision" for cooperative action on climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol ties the rich countries - but not developing countries - that have ratified it to binding emissions curbs.

It does not include the US, which says the protocol is unfair since the binding targets do not apply to developing giants that are already huge emitters of greenhouse gases.

"Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week," said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, referring to a summit on Friday due to be attended by about 120 heads of state or government.

"Poor countries want to see an outcome that guarantees sharp emissions reductions, yet rich countries are trying to delay discussions on the only mechanism we have to deliver this - the Kyoto Protocol." - Sapa-AFP

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