The UN climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, prompting President Barack Obama to upend his schedule and hold close-door talks with 19 other world leaders to work out a last-minute agreement on fighting global warming.

Associated Press18/12/2009 12:25
Delegates earlier blamed both the US and China for the lack of a political agreement that Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and more than 110 other world leaders are supposed to sign within hours.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking after the unscheduled meeting with Obama and the other leaders, said progress in the climate talks was being held back by China.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the US president met with world leaders from China and Russia, both seen as key participants in the climate talks, as well as the heads of state from wealthy nations like Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany and those from developing countries like Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Colombia.

“Most of the leaders are still working out to produce a meaningful agreement to be adopted,” Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said.

The lack of a deal caused leaders to throw out the planned timetable for the final day of the two-week UN climate conference, with their informal talks delaying the opening of the regular session.

Broad disputes continued behind closed doors between wealthy nations and developing ones, delegates said — the divide that from the start has dogged the two-week UN climate conference, which aimed to reach agreements on deeper reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

No agreed text had emerged as presidents and premiers were gathering at a Copenhagen convention hall, said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren.
“It is now up to world leaders to decide,” he said, suggesting they would be pressed to make last-minute decisions on the thrust of the climate declaration.
Carlgren, negotiating on behalf of the 27-nation European Union, blamed the morning’s impasse on the Chinese for “blocking again and again,” and on the U.S. for coming too late with an improved offer, a long-range climate aid program announced Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A leading African delegate, meanwhile, complained bitterly about the proposed declaration. “It’s weak. There’s nothing ambitious in this text,” Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, a leader of the developing nations bloc, said Friday.

Delegates filtering out of the predawn discussions Friday sounded disappointed.

“It’s a political statement, but it isn’t a lot,” said Chinese delegate Li Junhua.

“It would be a major disappointment. A political declaration would not guarantee our survival,” said Selwin Hart, a delegate from Barbados speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, many of which are threatened by seas rising form global warming.

World leaders handed off the draft text of about three pages at about 3 a.m. local time to their ministers and they continued to work on it through the night. But by 5 a.m., negotiators from Mexico and the G-77 plus China said they were nowhere near agreement on the final document. (Photo: Scanpix/AFP)