Climate talks stumble as protests turn violent

December 16, 2009 at 10:40 AM Leave a comment

Danish police fired pepper spray and beat protesters with batons outside the U.N. climate conference Wednesday, as disputes inside left major issues unresolved just two days before world leaders hope to sign a historic agreement to fight global warming.

Hundreds of protesters were trying to disrupt the 193-nation conference, the latest action in days of demonstrations to demand “climate justice” — firm steps to combat global warming. Police said 230 protesters were detained.

Inside the cavernous convention hall, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, among the first leaders to address the assembly, echoed the protesters’ sentiments.

“If the climate was a bank, a capitalist bank, they would have saved it,” he said of other nations.

Earlier, behind closed doors, negotiators dealing with core issues debated until just before dawn Wednesday without setting new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries’ efforts to cope with coming climate change, key elements of any deal.

“I regret to report we have been unable to reach agreement,” John Ashe of Antigua, chairman of one negotiating group, told the conference.

In those talks, the American delegation apparently objected to a proposed text it felt might bind the United States prematurely to reducing greenhouse gas emissions before Congress acts on the required legislation. U.S. envoys insisted, for example, on replacing the word “shall” with the conditional “should.”

“A lot of things are in play,” said Fred Krupp of the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund. “This is the normal rhythm of international negotiations.”

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Entry filed under: Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Green Help, National News. Tags: , , , , , .

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