Nations working on a deal to fight climate change should cap the size of delegations and use majority voting to overhaul negotiating rules that stifle progress and harm the interests of the poorest nations, researchers said on Sunday.
Almost 200 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of 2012.
They have been trying off and on since Kyoto was agreed in 1997 to widen limits on emissions but have been unable to find a formula acceptable to both rich and poor nations.
The number of national delegates hit a peak of 10,591 at the Copenhagen summit in 2009, when governments failed to agree a global accord to slow climate change after opposition from a handful of countries, up from 757 at a first meeting in 1995
Limiting the delegates per country would be a step towards greater fairness, the researchers from the University of East Anglia, the University of Colorado and PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Brazil holds the record, with almost 600 delegates at Copenhagen, while many of the poorest nations cannot afford to send more than a handful of delegates and so have less influence on the negotiations, they said.
Many studies show that developing nations, most dependent on agriculture, are most at risk from a changing climate.
"There is negotiation by exhaustion," Heike Schroeder, lead author at the University of East Anglia in England, told Reuters. Small delegations were unable to follow multiple strands of negotiations that often last late into the night.