Britain prepared to extend Kyoto if developing nations agree to a new, global treaty
Britain proposed a new twin-track climate deal yesterday to end the logjam which has affected international talks on global warming since the failed Copenhagen climate conference last December.
In a surprise policy U-turn, the Climate and Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, announced that the Government would agree to an extension of the current international climate treaty, the Kyoto protocol - something developing countries have insisted on but which has so far been rejected by the UK and the European Union as a whole.
Britain would accept a renewed Kyoto, Mr Miliband said, alongside the entirely new, legally binding global deal it has been pursuing. In effect there could be two separate international climate treaties, covering emissions cuts by different countries.
The move is ultimately likely to put pressure on China, one of the countries which blocked agreement at Copenhagen and now the world's biggest CO2 emitter, to join in a comprehensive new climate arrangement covering the whole world.
But if China was intransigent at the talks in the Danish capital, it was British and EU insistence on abandoning the 1997 Kyoto treaty which was the immediate cause of the talks' breakdown, and nearly led to a complete and humiliating collapse of two years of negotiations between 192 countries.
In the end, a limited ad-hoc agreement, the "Copenhagen Accord", was put together by world leaders during the conference's final day but it fell far short of the legally binding global warming treaty, with detailed targets for cutting global emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2, which had been Copenhagen's original objective.
In announcing yesterday that Britain would accept a renewal (technically, a "second commitment period") of Kyoto, Mr Miliband was in effect starting the climate talks all over again by sending a clear signal - and making a large concession - to developing countries, for whom maintaining the 1997 treaty had taken on almost totemic status.
"We are interested in trying to break the deadlock and find ways through some of the issues raised in Copenhagen," he said. "We do not want to let a technical argument about whether we have one treaty or two derail the process. We are determined to show flexibility as long as there is no undermining of …