Developing nations at the Copenhagen Climate Summit are crying "carbon colonialism," charging that plans being formulated to lessen carbon output are discriminatory.
The plans, which document agreements that could emerge from the summit, aim to set limits on each country's potential carbon emissions.
There are wide disagreements about those levels, as well as questions about who should hold the purse strings if, as expected, industrialized nations agree to pour tens of billions of dollars into "quick-start financing" to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
The U.N.'s chief climate diplomat, Yvo De Boer, said he expects "two tracks" to emerge from the Copenhagen meeting: a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and a new agreement bringing in the United States and setting emissions limits on developing nations.
The G77 bloc of developing nations made accusations of 21st century "carbon colonialism" over a leaked Danish draft agreement that they say would discriminate against them. The group warned that its members may not sign the so-called "Danish text," which the G77 deemed "inequitable."
The G77's chairman, Lumumba Stanislaus Di Aping of Sudan, told journalists that the Danish text "seemed to secure 60 per cent of the global atmospheric space for 20 per cent of the world's wealthiest nations." Di Aping was especially critical of Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, whom he accused of being desperate to achieve a deal at any price.
He appealed to President Obama, who is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen next Friday, not to join in any attempt to strong-arm developing nations into signing a deal that would leave their countries exposed to the ravages of global warming.
"We humbly ask of President Obama that the new dawn of multilateralism that he promised should not be simply business as usual -- the West prevailing at the expense of the rest of the developing countries," Di Aping said.
European delegates pointed out that the text in question was dated Nov. 27 and had never been formally tabled. "It's a storm in a teacup," one said.
The text also came in for criticism on the floor of the conference, where Singaporean activist Amira Karim won loud applause after attacking it for overturning and subverting normal U.N. principles. "This imposition without discussion is tantamount to carbon colonialism," she declared.
Meanwhile, a Chinese delegate urged Obama to increase a U.S. offer to cut carbon emissions. Xie Zhenhua said that China could accept a target to halve global emissions by 2050 if developed nations stepped up their emissions-cutting targets by 2020 and agreed to financial help for the developing world to fight climate change.
The Times of London contributed to this report.