U.N. Climate Talks in Turmoil as Hundreds Walk Out

International climate talks aimed at finding a global agreement on future action have been marred by controversy and turmoil

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Zhang Fan / Xinhua Press / Corbis

Members of non-governmental organizations hold posters and banners as they walk out of the National Stadium during the 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, Nov. 21, 2013.

Hundreds of delegates at the United Nations climate talks in Poland walked out in protest on Thursday over the slow pace and direction of the negotiations.

Some 800 people from environmental organizations and campaign groups returned their registration badges before walking out of the talks in Poland’s national stadium in Warsaw, the Guardian reports. This is the first time there has been a mass withdrawal since talks began in 1992, protestors say.

The talks, which conclude on Friday, are the latest round of ongoing negotiations aimed at creating a binding global agreement on climate change that would come into force by 2020. The conference opened in mid-November with a powerful speech by the Philippines’ delegate, Yeb Sano, who broke down as he spoke about Typhoon Haiyan as a devastating example of climate change’s effects.

On Wednesday, a bloc of 132 of the world’s poor countries walked out over a dispute over who should pay compensation for extreme climate events. Australia’s delegates came under particular criticism because they “wore t-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation” the Guardian reports.

The following day, hundreds of groups walked out over a perceived lack of progress and anger over the inclusion of fossil fuel lobbyists at the talks.

[The Guardian]