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African Nations Lead a "Walkout" at Copenhagen; Talks Continue

"Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week."

African countries raised the "nuclear option" this morning in Copenhagen, suspending climate talks in protest of wealthy nations' resistance to discuss binding emissions reductions. Though African nations have walked out for the day, they are not leaving the talks permanently.

"Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International. "Poor countries want to see an outcome which guarantees sharp emissions reductions yet rich countries are trying to delay discussions on the only mechanism we have to deliver this - the Kyoto Protocol."

At this point, early in the final week during which world leaders arrive in Copenhagen, officials were playing down the suspension as a strategic measure to get talks back on track for tomorrow. A similar tactic was used during recent climate talks in Barcelona.

"This not about blocking the talks - it is about whether rich countries are ready to guarantee action on climate change and the survival or people in Africa and across the world," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

Friends of the Earth International's Nnimmo Bassey said: "We support African countries' demands for Kyoto targets and mandatory emissions reductions for rich countries. We denounce the dirty negotiating tactics of rich countries which are trying to change the rules and tilt them in their own favor. Developed countries are stalling these negotiations as Africa attempts to move them forward."

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