Kevin Rudd has been singled out by a leading African climate negotiator as a leader failing to live up to his political promise as a meeting at global climate negotiations chaired by Australian negotiators ended with African nations walking out in protest.
The 55 African nations, supported by all other developing nation negotiating blocs (G77 plus China, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries group), are calling for developed nations to commit to binding targets in the order of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 before negotiations continue on other, less critical issues.
"Kevin Rudd cannot claim to be a 'friend of the chair' at the global climate negotiations while his woeful targets are undermining meaningful action," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said.
"African representatives are rightly pointing out that their people are dying now because of the historic and current behaviour of rich countries like Australia.
"Kevin Rudd's woeful 5% target and the unreasonable conditions on his still too weak 25% maximum offer are part of the problem.
"The Greens are the only group in Australia's parliament whose commitment to science-based climate action would actually deliver an agreement in Copenhagen."
Australian negotiators were chairing a 'trust building' meeting on behalf of the 'Umbrella Group', including the USA, Canada and others. However, African negotiators led a walkout when it became clear that meaningful emissions reduction targets would not be on the table.
Sudanese delegate and lead negotiator for the G77 plus China, Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, said in his press conference: 'If there is anything that you know about politics and political manifestos is that they are worth very little. Tell me of any politician who delivered on his political manifesto. Is it Gordon Brown? Is it Kevin Rudd?'
"The African nations should be applauded for their courage in standing up for what is necessary in the face of climate crisis and their move has been vindicated by the decision to focus the majority of remaining negotiations in Barcelona on targets," Senator Milne said.
"While some such as the Climate Institute in Australia have been keen to suggest that financing mechanisms from rich to poor countries is the key to negotiations, it is becoming clear that, while financing is vital, the targets are the primary and critical piece of the puzzle.
"Focussing on financing instead of targets is only giving cover to the Rudd Government and others who are trying to portray themselves as leading on climate change while their actions show they are dragging badly.
"Jeffrey Sachs has added his voice to the growing chorus of global experts including Lord Nicholas Stern and Kofi Annan who say that it would be better not to conclude negotiations this year than to risk a political agreement which will lock in failure on the climate crisis.
"A failure to agree this year is far better than an agreement to fail."