Latin American radicals call for Kyoto renewal

A A A

Three radical Latin American leaders may make the difference between agreement and failure at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, which reaches its climax this week.

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua – socialist firebrands all – are planning to attend the "high-level" segment of the Cancun meeting which begins tomorrow – and they each have a specific, potentially deal-breaking demand: that the Kyoto Protocol be renewed. This is because it obliges rich industrialised countries to bind themselves to cut their emissions of greenhouses gases, without a similar commitment by the developing nations.

Their delegates at the conference have already made clear there will be no deal without renewal. Yet last week three major industrialised countries – Japan, Russia and Canada – declared in Cancun they would refuse to renew their initial Kyoto commitments, which run out in 2012.

The rich and poor countries seem so far apart that at the weekend the EU's lead negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, said it was "like a sword of Damocles hanging over the conference".

Many negotiators fear that the position can be only further polarised by the arrivals of presidents Chavez, Morales and Ortega, whose nations are collectively known as the Alba countries, because of radical economic grouping they have formed in recent years – the "Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América".

All three are expected later this week at Cancun, along with another Alba member, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador – regarded as more liberal than far-left – although Mr Chavez and Mr Morales in particular can be unpredictable in their behaviour and could yet drop out.

The concern is that they may prevent a compromise deal by treating the conference as an opportunity for radical grandstanding, which Mr Chavez and Mr Morales both did at last year's failed climate conference in Copenhagen – fiercely attacking the final, patched-up agreement, the Copenhagen Accord, for having been negotiated behind closed doors between US President Barack Obama and a small group of other countries.

"Their arrival will definitely affect the dynamic of the conference," a senior diplomatic source at Cancun said last night. "A lot will depend on how it is managed, particularly by the Mexican hosts. And it will also depend on how much progress has been made on the difficult issues by the time they arrive. There is a lot for them to gain by there being a deal, a lot for their populations and economies, so we will have to see how they want to play that with their domestic audiences."

Top of the list of potential gains for developing nations is access to the colossal sum of climate finance – $100bn (£63bn) annually by 2020 – which the rich countries promised the poor countries at Copenhagen. A central part of the Cancun negotiations is the setting up of a new Green Fund to distribute this money, which would be a mixture of public and private finance, although a UN report two months ago said that raising it would be "challenging".

Also on the table is a new forest treaty, which would allow a monetary value to be placed on forests in developed countries which are not cut down (and so do not release carbon emissions to the atmosphere). This too is a potential source of billions for poor nations.

Although negotiations on both of these are advanced, the US has made clear it will block an agreement that does not deal with all CO2 emissions from developing counties, not least because China is the world's biggest carbon emitter. But if the Kyoto problem cannot be solved, a deal is impossible.

"If the extreme positions persist, it will be very difficult to get an agreement at the end of the week," the diplomatic source said. "But we think there will be some movement."

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015