The Council of Europe's rapporteur on climate change has said that wealthy nations are trying to scupper a new climate deal in Durban.
The former UK deputy prime minister, John Prescott, has alleged a "conspiracy against the poor" that risks destroying attempts to get a viable successor to the 1997 Kyoto agreement.
Lord Prescott believes that the current Kyoto provisions should be suspended, rather than allowing them to expire in 2012.
The US claims that it is committed to making a success of United Nations convened climate talks taking place in South Africa, reports the BBC.
But the Labour peer told BBC Radio 4's influential 'Today' programme at the weekend that the clock should be stopped on the Kyoto provisions and a "reassessment" made in 2015.
Otherwise, he suggested, a new deal could "wither on the vine"."That is what Canada and America want, and one or two other countries," he alleged, adding forcefully: "It is a conspiracy against the poor. It is appalling. I am ashamed of such countries not recognising their responsibilities."
Lord Prescott said politicians that politicians from wealthy nations should not use the global financial crisis as an excuse for putting off concerted action on climate change, which could make current problems "look like a tea party".
Environmentalists and development experts point out that it is those living in poor nations who will suffer the worst impact of global warming and climate change unless something is done.
The Durban conference, 'Saving tomorrow today' (formally 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) runs through to 9 December 2011.
It is also the seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol
* More on COP17: http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/