Published on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 at 7:29 PM by the Associated Press
Uproar Disrupts Climate Conference
by Emma Ross
 
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Demonstrators disrupted a major conference on global warming Wednesday with dozens of protesters staging a sit-in and a cake thrower targeting the top U.S. negotiator.

The uproar came as discussion at the U.N. climate conference focused on how to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed by much of the scientific community for global warming.

Frank Loy Pied
U.S. chief negotiator Frank Loy is hit in the face with a custard pie by a protester angry at what activists say is U.S. reluctance to do anything meaningful to fight global warming at United Nations climate talks in the Hague November 22, 2000. The United States and the European Union dug deeper into opposing positions amid raucous scenes at U.N. climate talks as efforts to agree ways to fight global warming appeared stuck in low gear. (Wfa/Michel Porro/Reuters)
Key contentious issues include how far countries should be able to use the carbon dioxide absorbed by forests and agricultural lands against emission reductions targets and to what extent nations should be able to buy their way into complying with their targets.

But the high-level talks were disrupted when several dozen environmental activists entered the high security building, broke into a committee meeting and staged a sit-in. Conference President Jan Pronk said equipment was damaged and small fires were set in the building.

In an apparently unrelated incident, a woman pressed a chocolate cream cake into the face of the chief U.S. negotiator, Under Secretary of State Frank E. Loy as the American delegation gave its daily press briefing. The woman then calmly walked out of the room.

A second woman then stood up on a chair and screamed at the delegates before being escorted out by a conference technician. Her words were indecipherable. Conference officials said the identity of the women were unknown.

``On the eve of Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie would have been a more traditional choice, but what I really want is a strong agreement to fight global warming. I'm headed back to the negotiating table right now with that aim,'' Loy said after the incident.

He then excused himself and the briefing was called off.

Environmental activists sitting outside the meeting room told The Associated Press they sneaked into the building to disrupt proceedings because they believed the goal of the meeting had betrayed the spirit of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The protocol committed the developing world to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

The U.N. conference, which involves delegates from more than 180 countries, has two days left to decide how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Kyoto agreement.

They environmental activists said they were not connected with the women who disrupted Loy's briefing, nor with any environmental organization.

Dutch police said they had arrested around 100 protesters Wednesday near The Hague's central train station. The activists were planning to march to a number of embassies to protest against nuclear energy, but did not have a permit.

Protesters in the conference building said they believed the negotiations were watering down environmental protection.

Conferees are debating different ways that nations can use to meet their emission reductions targets.

One strategy includes the idea of international trading of emissions credits, where countries who will have no trouble meeting their goal could sell their surplus credits to those who are struggling to meet the target. The United States wants unlimited trading in credits.

Another mechanism involves a voluntary compliance fund, where parties can pay into a fund that will act as an agent to buy foreign credits to help them meet their emissions targets.

``They are woefully inadequate at addressing the issues,'' said Kim Webster, one of the group's protesters from England. Webster accused delegates of avoiding the ``real'' issues and called on them to increase spending on renewable energy sources.

``They need to stop talking about how to make money from climate change,'' she said.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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