BONN, Germany - Little concrete progress was achieved at the climate talks that ended here this week, but the fault lines that will divide the world as its attempts to negotiate a new climate treaty by the end of this year became vividly clear in the corridors of the Maritim Hotel Conference Center.
A host of developing countries, from China to Bolivia to the Philippines, took to the podium to insist that developed countries cut their emissions very rapidly by far more than they had planned. Most said the appropriate figure would be at least a 40 to 50 percent reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2020.
"The U.S. talks about ambitious targets and we would have liked to see a reduction of at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 - we think it is possible," said Amjad Abdulla, the lead negotiator from the island nation Maldives.
South Africa's plan must have had a number of industrialized countries squirming: It proposed specific emissions reduction targets for 41 industrialized countries for the periods 2013-2017 and 2018-2022. For example: the United States should drop 76 percent during that first period, Ireland by 79 percent, Australia by 82 percent.
The United States did not specify any target for itself at this meeting, which saw the debut of the Obama administration in climate negotiations (to applause). But President Obama has previously only mentioned returning to 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union is committed to reductions of 20 percent by that time, but has said it might go up to 30 percent.
Negotiators from developed countries tended to dismiss the steep emissions reductions demanded by poorer nations as a negotiating strategy - and also absurd.
But delegates from poorer countries were adamant and united on the issue, aggressively collaring reporters in the hallways to say that huge reductions were required, fast. They talked about the "carbon debt" they were owed by the industrialized world.
"Developed countries have over-consumed their share of the atmospheric space - they ate the pizza and left us the crumbs," said Ambassador Anjelica Navarro Llano of Bolivia, hoarse because she had talked about the topic so much over the 12 days of the conference.
She added: "Developed countries have a historical debt - a historical responsibility. The more they pay now they less they pay later."