Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent has accused his Indian counterpart of "overreaction" after she made a speech to delegates that she was "disturbed" by Kent's actions at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
"I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada," said Jayanthi Natarajan on Friday, according to a Times of India report. Natarajan is upset that Kent and representatives from other developed nations are accusing poorer countries of stalling the talks. She says it's actually the highly industrialized countries that are refusing to sign on.
"I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner. Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye."
The article says Natarajan got a standing ovation from representatives of most of the 195 countries at the Friday meeting, which at the time, was not attended by media.
For his part, Kent is downplaying his alleged antagonistic role, admitting that he had complained about the "lack of commitment and movement" by certain countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
But, he said the remark had been "very low-key" and called Natarajan's speech an "overreaction."
He then turned the focus on China, saying that its officials had been "obstructing" the talks.
"They're not in favour of anything that would require them to make absolute reductions. They have been very reluctant to step up and have been against just about everything that's been raised at the COPs [climate talks] this year," Kent told The Globe and Mail.
Delegates are trying to hammer out a pathway toward limiting global emissions of greenhouse gases for the rest of this decade, and then how to continue beyond 2020. The two-week conference has already passed its expected deadline of Saturday evening local time.