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Deadlock Persists at Climate Summit; Protests Take Spotlight

  • Zlatica Hoke

Activists, demanding cuts in global emissions, wear masks depicting, from left: Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbot, U.S. President Barack Obama, China's President Xi Jinping, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

Activists, demanding cuts in global emissions, wear masks depicting, from left: Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbot, U.S. President Barack Obama, China's President Xi Jinping, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

A top U.S. negotiator at global climate talks in Peru warned deadlocked delegates Saturday that failure to reach a compromise on carbon pollution standards could doom chances for a global pact next year in Paris.

U.S. climate change envoy Todd Stern issued his warning after negotiators from more than 190 nations failed to reach a preliminary deal during nearly two weeks of deliberations that were set to end Friday. With no deal looming, talks entered a 13th day Saturday with a grouping of developing nations rejecting the current draft.

Dissenters, led by China, said the draft text placed too much burden on developing economies to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Other developing nations, including low-lying island states, faulted the text for failing to provide compensation for losses from storms and rising sea levels.

Stern warned delegates that failure to accept a compromise text would damage the credibility of U.N. efforts to slow climate change.

The Paris treaty envisioned for December 2015 would replace the Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions that expired in 2012.

Greenhouse gases are blamed for causing global temperatures to rise. Scientists warn that more extreme droughts, floods and rising seas are on the way unless the emissions are reduced.

While work on the draft text continued, activists organized several protests Friday in Lima, claiming at least some of the media spotlight.

Oxfam, an international organization fighting poverty, staged a demonstration with activists depicting international leaders in a lifeboat.

"It is a representation of the presidents of developed countries and countries that must assume commitments and obligations urgently to reduce their emissions to fight climate change," said Alejandra Alyza, an Oxfam spokeswoman.

China, India, Japan, Russia and the United States account for about 60 percent of the world's carbon emissions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Thursday in Lima, acknowledged their responsibility but said that "more than half of global emissions — more than half — are coming from developing nations. So it is imperative that they act, too."

Near the climate talks’ venue, about 100 people lay on the ground to represent those already dying in poor countries because of climate change.

"The people in my country, my brothers and sisters in the Philippines, are dying as governments here discuss the fate of my people and the people of this world," said Gerard Arances of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

Greenpeace International, known for its bold actions to help protect the planet, caused a new controversy earlier this week when its activists placed their message at Peru's UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nazca Desert.

"From here, from the Nazca Lines, we are sending a strong message to political leaders [who] are debating in the U.N. Climate Conference in Lima," said Mauro Fernandez, a Greenpeace climate activist.

The sign was dismantled and Greenpeace issued an apology after the Peruvian government threatened to sue the group for damaging a part of the revered Peruvian site.

Another climate summit also was held in Lima this week to give voice to ordinary citizens, such as native Peruvians.

Critics said the Lima meeting was leaving left too many climate issues unresolved, but it has produced at least one concrete result: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed a bill to protect Peru's glaciers.

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