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Tempers Flare as UN Climate Talks Near End

  • VOA News

Local and international activists march inside a conferences center to demand urgent action to address climate change at the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, December 7, 2012.

Local and international activists march inside a conferences center to demand urgent action to address climate change at the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, December 7, 2012.

Two-weeks of United Nations-sponsored climate talks are coming to a contentious end in Doha, Qatar.

Protesters made their presence felt Friday, chanting in the lobby of the Qatar National Convention Center, angry over the apparent failure of rich nations and developing countries to reach consensus on cutting emissions and reducing global warming.

It was a sentiment echoed by many, including Zambia's David Kaluba, representing African countries.

"And I would say that we are ready to go home empty-handed if we do not get the resources that that are required to help us meet our challenges. 60 billion U.S. dollars by 2015 is a conservative request, and yet very important to enable us to go on a path of low emission as well as resilient pathway," said Kaluba.

Financing the fight against global warming has been one of the most contentious issues.

Developing nations argue they need more money from industrialized countries, like the United States, European nations and others, to switch to environmentally-friendly technologies. But those countries, facing financial woes at home, have been reluctant to lay out how they will boost funding to a promised $100 billion a year by 2020.

Bangladeshi Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud said that simply is not good enough. "If you ask me whether I am happy or not happy, compared to the need when I get very little, how can I be happy?"

There has also been little progress on curbing emissions from industrialized nations.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol starts to expire at the end of the year but there has been little enthusiasm for an extension, with several key countries [Japan, Russia and Canada] refusing to sign on.

The United States never ratified Kyoto. Other countries are angered that it fails to hold developing countries that are major polluters, like China and India, accountable.

Activists like Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said they expected little coming into the talks, but are dismayed by what seems like a lack of progress.

United Nations officials say they also are upset.

U.N. Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres called the lack of progress alarming.

"There never is going to be enough ambition. The fact is that the international policy response is fundamentally behind where science says that we are. So, if you look at the difference there is always going to be a lag, always," she said.

And Figueres said there is plenty of blame to go around.

"I am hoping for more from everybody. You begin with the United States, China, India, Brazil, EU, you name it, all the way down. Everybody needs to do more. There is not one country in the world that is at their maximum potential yet, not one country," said Figueres.

The climate talks were scheduled to end Friday, but officials now expect them to run into Saturday.
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