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No deal on global warming as climate talks collapse
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- United Nations climate talks have collapsed in disarray with no deal reached to stop global warming.
"There isn't a deal. That's unfortunate," British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told reporters, saying he was leaving the conference in The Hague hours before a deadline to reach for a pact.
"I'm gutted," Prescott said.
Delegates said talks had foundered on disagreements between the EU and the United States over ways to curb emissions of greenhouse gases believed to be causing climate change.
The talks have been suspended until May 2001, a source in the 15-nation European Union said.
The conference chairman, Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk, said: "We have not reached agreement. I am very disappointed." Pronk said he was not closing the conference but would resume it at a later stage.
"We cannot go home just by stating, by confessing, that we did not reach an agreement," he said.
"We should be aware that we have been watched by the outside world," he told the delegates in a closing plenary. "There were extremely high expectations of us."
A key issue blocking agreement was that of "sinks" -- whether to let countries count the carbon absorbed by their forests against their greenhouse gas emissions.
U.S. officials say nations should get credit for existing farmland and forests because they absorb carbon dioxide and offset some emissions. Opponents say such programs would reward certain countries for doing nothing.
"Governments have spent two weeks essentially arguing about how they can do as little as possible to reduce the threat of global climate change," said Tony Juniper, vice chairman of Friends of the Earth.
Greenpeace said the meeting "will be remembered as the moment when governments abandoned the promise of global cooperation to protect the planet Earth."
Delegates had been negotiating throughout the night in an attempt to reach agreement by a deadline of 1600 GMT on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher had said the "crunch issues" had been resolved, with the basic elements in place.
However, other negotiators warned that the talks were on the brink of collapse because of widespread opposition to what they see as U.S. reluctance to limit its own power to pollute.
The U.S. and the 15-nation European Union have argued over ways to clean up the earth's atmosphere.
Poor nations and green groups warned of environmental catastrophe if the talks among 180 countries failed to forge the first concrete global steps against climate change by the deadline.
The talks were to set an agreement on guidelines on how nations may reach targets they accepted three years ago for reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases.
The gases are blamed for the abnormal warming of the Earth and bizarre weather changes.
Conference chairman Jan Pronk had submitted a compromise proposal on Thursday meant to bridge the differences between the U.S. and the EU, but both sides rejected it as inadequate.
The paper was also denounced by dozens of environmental lobby groups who said it would give countries too much leeway to wriggle out of emissions-reduction targets they committed to in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases must decline to 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Progress made in knife-edge climate negotiations
UN Convention on Climate Change
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