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Green groups walk out of UN climate talks as lack of progress continues

Several major green groups have walked out of the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, saying the conference was "on track to deliver virtually nothing." Little progress on a new climate deal has been made.

Squabbling between rich and poor nations undercut negotiations at the annual UN climate change conference on Thursday. The talks are aimed at reaching an agreement by 2015 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

The lack of constructive talks prompted 13 organizations, including Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam and the International Trade Union Confederation, to leave the conference on Thursday.

"Organizations and movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks," read a joint statement from the groups, who have no part in decision-making and attend the conference in advisory capacities.

"The Warsaw climate conference, which should have been an important step in the just tradition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing."

The conference, which began on November 11, ends on Friday. Money appears to be at the root of most discussions, with developing nations imploring wealthy countries to honor a 2009 promise to provide $100 billion (74.2 billion euros) by 2020.

The money would go towards helping protect poor countries subject to natural disasters. Developing countries are also after compensation for climate-related losses and damage. How to apportion emission curbs in future is another sticking point.

The departure by the green groups is yet another sign of the turmoil at the negotiating tables. There were reports negotiators from 133 countries walked out of meetings on Wednesday night, while conference president Marcin Korolec was sacked as Poland's environmental minister after a parliamentary reshuffle on the same day.

Upon his group's withdrawal from the conference, Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo criticized host Poland for holding a global coal summit in the same city as the talks, Japan for slashing its emissions goal, and Australia's decision to scrap a controversial carbon tax.

"Warsaw has simply not been good enough," Naidoo said.

Ban makes Russia request

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, meanwhile, took the opportunity at the conference to urge Russia to be lenient on the 30 people arrested for a Greenpeace demonstration at an oil rig in the Pechora Sea. Of the 28 activists and two journalists detained, 26 have now been bailed and five are out of jail.

"They [Russia] may have their own domestic rules and regulations but I would hope that they would have some favorable and sympathetic considerations for this case," Ban told Reuters in Warsaw.

ph/ccp (IPS, Reuters, AP, AFP)