The climate secretary, Ed Miliband, accused China, Sudan, Bolivia and other leftwing Latin American countries of trying to hijack the UN climate summit and "hold the world to ransom" to prevent a deal being reached.
In an article in the Guardian, Miliband said the UK will make clear to those countries holding out against a binding legal treaty that "we will not allow them to block global progress".
'We cannot again allow negotiations on real points of substance to be hijacked in this way,' he wrote in the aftermath of the UN summit in Copenhagen, which climaxed with what was widely seen as a weak accord, with no binding emissions targets, despite an unprecedented meeting of leaders.
Miliband said there must be "major reform" of the UN body overseeing the talks – the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – and on the way negotiations are conducted. He is said to be outraged that UN procedure allowed a few countries to nearly block a deal.
The prime minister, Gordon Brown, will repeat some of the UK's accusations in a webcast tomorrow when he says: 'Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down [those] talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.'
Only China is mentioned specifically in Miliband's article but aides tonight made it clear that he included Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, which also tried to resist a deal being signed.
Rich nations dictated
But in what threatened to become an international incident, diplomats and environment groups hit back by saying Britain and other countries, including the US and Australia, had dictated the terms of the weak Copenhagen agreement, imposing it on the world's poor "at the peril of the millions of common masses".
Muhammed Chowdhury, a lead negotiator of G77 group of 132 developing countries and the 47 least developed countries, said:
'The hopes of millions of people from Fiji to Grenada, Bangladesh to Barbados, Sudan to Somalia have been buried. The summit failed to deliver beyond taking note of a watered-down Copenhagen accord reached by some 25 friends of the Danish chair, head of states and governments. They dictated the terms at the peril of the common masses.'
Developing countries were joined in their criticism of the developed nations by international environment groups.
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: 'Instead of committing to deep cuts in emissions and putting new, public money on the table to help solve the climate crisis, rich countries have bullied developing nations to accept far less.
'Those most responsible for putting the planet in this mess have not shown the guts required to fix it and have instead acted to protect short-term political interests.'
This article is reproduced courtesy of the Guardian Environment Network
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