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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 05:45 GMT

World: Americas

Island nations' anger over global warming

Islands like St Lucia are already suffering as a result of global warming

By the BBC's Berlin correspondent Rob Broomby

The second day of the Climate Change Conference in Bonn has seen some intensive activity aimed at breaking the deadlock over the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.

This commits the industrialised world to an overall 5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2012.

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Japan, supported by the European Union, has suggested establishing a special facilitator to knock heads together and pave the way for a final deal next November.

But the smaller island nations, especially in the Caribbean, feel the opportunity for a deal has been squandered.

Many of the smaller island states most affected by global warming have been voicing their anger at the lack of progress towards getting a deal.

The government representative from the island of St. Lucia said the delegates were fiddling while the world burned.

For the Caribbean nations, global warming is a phenomenon they are already living with and they want urgent action.

Environmental cost

The tropical cyclones common in the area are already increasing in frequency and intensity, according to government representatives.

Coastal erosion and the death of coral - or coral bleaching - has already been witnessed.

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Delegates say increasing surface water temperatures have led to the death of sea fish as bacteria normally killed off in the oceans start to thrive.

In countries heavily dependent on the fishing industry, they say it has had a devastating effect.

The flexibility mechanisms which allow so-called "emissions trading" were mainly aimed at making it cheaper for the industrialised world to implement cuts in greenhouse gases.

But developing nations have been at the centre of the discussion over whether they should be compensated for maintaining or planting forests - so-called sinks - that soak up carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmentalists want to ensure that any payments are for new tree planting, but a spokesperson for Guyana's metereological service said that policy discriminated against those who had preserved their forests over a long period.

He said the benefits would go to those countries which have already destroyed their forests.

Many poorer island states arrived with low expectations and feel the industrialised world has simply squandered the chance to help.

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