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UK Deputy PM, John Prescott, leaving the talks
"There is no deal"
 real 56k

Jan Pronk, conference chairman
"I am very disappointed"
 real 56k

The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"The recriminations are flying"
 real 56k

Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 04:26 GMT
Dismay at climate summit failure

Environmentalists have attacked the breakdown
The failure to reach an agreement on measures to tackle global warming has disappointed governments and environmentalists worldwide.

Last-minute attempts by the UK to broker a compromise between the European Union and the United States were unsuccessful at the UN climate conference in the Netherlands on Saturday.

We are very anxious about the negative signals that this failure sends

UNEP chief Klaus Toepfer

The conference chairman, Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, said the delegates had "not lived up to the expectations of the outside world".

There were sharper reactions elsewhere. "The failure of these talks is a disaster. No words can truly express our anger," the Friends of the Earth group said, describing the collapse of the conference as a fiasco.

The head of the UN Environment Programme (Unep), Klaus Toepfer, said he was "shocked and disappointed" at the outcome of the summit.

Kyoto treaty

The talks were aimed at putting into effect an international climate treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. It called for a 5% average cut in developed countries' emissions of the gases held to be responsible by many scientists for what they regard as a rapid rise in global temperatures. Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol will now be delayed.

John Prescott AFP
John Prescott was "gutted" by the failure

The UK Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, had tried to reconcile divisions between the European Union and the US-led bloc, the Umbrella Group, after the talks became deadlocked.

The Americans apparently softened their position slightly, but several EU governments were dismayed by the UK proposal, and all four Nordic ministers rejected it.

The G77 group of developing countries said the failure condemned them to more environmental turmoil. A G77 spokesman blamed selfishness and a lack of political will among rich nations.

'Time has run out'

"Time is not running out. It has run out," said Tommy Remengesau, President-elect of Palau, one of the Pacific islands most threatened by rising sea levels.

This meeting will be remembered as the moment when governments abandoned the promise of global co-operation to protect planet Earth

The EU-US dispute was mainly over a US plan to allow developed nations to count carbon dioxide absorbed by forests - so-called carbon sinks - against emissions reduction targets.

The EU fears that countries may claim that all their greenhouse gases are being absorbed by sinks, and that they therefore do not need to make any actual reductions in the pollution they emit from chimneys, vehicle exhausts and other sources.

The US - backed by Australia, Canada and Japan - argues that it cannot reach its targets without counting carbon sinks.

protest by US environmentalists at climate conference
Environmentalists made their presence felt
There are tentative plans for the conference to resume some time in 2001, perhaps in the German city of Bonn, and the optimists are talking of a "suspension" of the talks, rather than a breakdown.

But BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby said it was hard to see how another session would manage to grasp the victory that eluded the negotiators in The Hague.

Mr Prescott said he felt "gutted" by the failure. "The world needs Kyoto, it needs a deal, and people have to go on trying to get one," he said.

A US group, the National Environmental Trust, said The Hague was "likely to have been the European nations' best opportunity to achieve a strong climate treaty, and they decided to pass it up.

"After January, they could face a Bush administration almost certain to push for bigger loopholes. There is no excuse for having walked away."

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25 Nov 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Science takes a back seat
23 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Climate treaty 'almost irrelevant'
28 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Global warming 'worse than feared'
07 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
The dangers of climate change
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