Rise above national interests - activists
Durban - Countries should rise above national interests during the climate change talks which started in Durban on Monday, activists said.
"We call upon the countries taking part in the conference to make sure that they avoid advancing their national interests above global interests," Tasneem Essop of the World Wide Fund for Nature said.
She was speaking at a news briefing organised by the Climate Network International, a network of over 700 organisations.
Countries needed to make sure they came up with concrete agreements to deal with climate change. Compromises had to be made to save the environment.
Essop described the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) as the most fluid talks she had ever attended, saying there was a risk of losing the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and it commits 37 developed countries to reducing carbon emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.
The US refused to join the Kyoto Protocol, arguing it did not impose any obligation on China.
Essop acknowledged that countries were dealing with an economic crisis.
"We believe that we can grow our economies and create jobs and at the same time protect the environment. It could be in the countries' national interests to protect the environment."
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said researchers were worried over rumours that Canada might pull out of the Kyoto Protocol before Christmas.
"This is not what we need. It would be bad if the Kyoto Protocol is ruined in Africa. We have heard that Canada is not going to meet its targets."
Oxfam’s Tim Gore said African countries would be badly affected by the effects of climate change.
"The agricultural sector is highly vulnerable to this. We have seen total crop failure in some parts of Kenya."
Gore said drought had resulted in higher food prices.