Frustration with U.N. Climate Talk Hosts


Frustration grew Friday with the Qatari hosts of U.N. climate talks stuttering towards a close in Doha, for failing to instil a sense of urgency in negotiators preparing themselves for a long night.

As some delegates urged conference chairman Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiyah to take matters in hand, he quipped in a stock-taking session: "I am not in a rush. I am at home. My house is only 10 minutes driving distance so I'd love you to stay here more days."

Several delegates, including European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, urged the vice prime minister of the fossil fuel giant to put pressure on negotiators.

"We really strongly feel that time is running out," complained Hedegaard.

As the originally scheduled closing time fast approached, negotiators remained deadlocked on issues crucial to extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol, and on funding to help poor countries deal with the fallout from climate change.

Attiyah said the delegates themselves were in control.

"The presidency (of the conference) is not putting pressure," said the former energy minister of the world's biggest per-capita emitter of Earth-warming greenhouse gases for the gathering is seeking to curb.

"The text is in your hands. If you don't rush, welcome with me, you'll stay," he added.

Interventions from previous conference hosts have been credited with helping break some of the deadlocks that have become characteristic of U.N. climate talks.

"Here, there is no management. Up to now, the Qatari presidency has been totally absent," one negotiator told AFP.

Qatar has so far also resisted pressure to announce a target for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.

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