BEIJING - A clutch of major emerging economies including China and India have forged a united front to put pressure on developed countries at next month's climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.
Over two days of quietly arranged talks in Beijing, the countries said they had reached agreement on major issues, including the need for the West to provide finance and technology to help developing nations combat global warming.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as Sudan, the current chairman of the Group of 77 developing countries.
China is the world's top greenhouse gas emitter and India is the fourth largest, while Brazil is also a leading emitter, mainly through deforestation.
All three, along with South Africa, have come under pressure to curb the pace of their carbon pollution and have announced plans to achieve this.
They say steps by rich nations to fight climate change are, collectively, not good enough.
The purpose of the meeting was to prepare for and contribute to a positive, ambitious and equitable outcome in Copenhagen, according to a statement released after the talks, which took place on Friday evening and Saturday.
We believe that this work represents a good starting point and we will continue to work together over the next few days and weeks as our contribution toward a consensus in Copenhagen, the statement said.
The meeting in Copenhagen was supposed to yield the outlines of a broader and tougher legally binding climate agreement to expand or replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.
But the troubled negotiations launched two years ago in Bali have failed to bridge the divide between rich and poor nations on efforts to curb emissions, how to measure and report them and who should pay.
Talks host Denmark and a number of rich nations have instead backed a plan to seal a comprehensive political deal at Copenhagen and agree the legally binding details in 2010. But some developing nations are demanding a stronger outcome.
CALL TO BACK KYOTO PACT
Developing nations have also expressed alarm at efforts to try to ditch the Kyoto Protocol by creating an entirely new agreement or cherry-picking from the existing pact and placing the provisions into another agreement.
The European Union has said Kyoto has failed in its intended aim of cutting rich nations' emissions and that a new agreement was needed.
The Beijing statement said the Kyoto Protocol should remain in force, with rich countries taking responsibility to cut emissions in accordance with the protocol's second commitment period from 2013.
Developing economies in return would pledge to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.
The participants, who included Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, worked off a 10-page draft negotiation strategy outlined personally by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Indian newspaper said that Beijing's top climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, would present the strategy in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Global conservation group WWF said the Beijing statement appeared to be a rejection of Denmark's proposal to aim for a political agreement in Copenhagen.
We are not surprised the emerging economies have laid down this challenge for the developed world, said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF's Global Climate Initiative, in a statement.
Quite frankly the Danish proposal is incredibly weak and the developing world governments aren't stupid.
(Editing by David Fogarty)