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The 194 countries taking part in the Durban climate talks are divided and united into power blocs or negotiating groups. South Africa is in several of these blocs.

G-77 and China

The Group of 77 plus China are numerically the largest negotiating bloc, speaking on behalf of roughly half the world’s population. However, the members of this group do not always vote together. Despite its name, the bloc has more than 130 developing country members and articulates the interests of the global south. It dates back to 1964, when there was an original membership of 77 nations.

Africa group

This group represents the African continent and has 53 members, including South Africa.

The EU

Despite the historical military and economic alliances between Europe, the US and other western industrialised nations, the 27 countries of the EU vote as a single bloc in the climate change negotiations through the EU president.

The umbrella group

This loose coalition of non-EU developed countries was formed after the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005. It usually includes the US, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Least developed countries

This group of 48 of the economically poorest countries in the world regularly work together to defend common interests.

BASIC countries

This alliance is made up of four large “semi-developed” countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China), which are also members of the G-77 bloc. It was formed before the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009. All four nations are under growing pressure to make firm legal commitments to reduce their soaring carbon emissions.

Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

This group of 42 countries, most of which are also G-77 members, represents the interests of low-lying and small island countries. They are united by the threat of sea-level rise and push aggressive positions in the climate change talks.

The environmental integrity group

This rather unlikely coalition – Mexico, Switzerland, South Korea, Monaco and Lichtenstein – was formed about 10 years ago and has the stated aim of upholding the integrity of the climate change negotiations. In a statement to the last COP meeting in Mexico, the group said: “What we do not want in the new world economic order is for the law of the strongest to dominate, or that unfettered growth is pursued at all costs… All nations have to do their part. Only then can we overcome the climate blockade.”

Alba group (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America)

This group of Latin-American and Caribbean nations, representing about 73 million people, refused to approve the Copenhagen Accord at the COP 15 meeting in 2009. The Alba nations (Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua) argued that the accord was drawn up after secret negotiations by a small but powerful group of countries. The Alba Group blames the climate change crisis on the capitalist system, which it sees as an unsustainable and predatory economic model.

Organisation of Petroleum Exporting States (Opec)

This group represents the interests of major oil nations whose economic interests are especially vulnerable to future curbs on fossil fuel emissions. Its members include Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

*** Other groupings include CACAM (Central Asia, Caucasus, Albania and Moldova); Latin America and the Caribbean (33 members); the League of Arab States; and Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie.