Countries Try to Salvage Warsaw Talks, Activists Remain Across Town

WARSAW--Negotiators arrived Friday for the final day of two-week climate talks staring at a chasm of issues that still split developed and developing countries but none more pressing than the billions of dollars poor nations want now for the loss and damage already suffered due to climate change.

Whether the Nov. 11-22 UN talks will end in Warsaw tonight is anyone’s guess—they have spilled past the final Friday of the negotiations into the weekend for years now. But the halls between negotiating rooms were eerily quiet today after a walkout yesterday by 800 or so members of environmental and trade union groups over what they see as indifference by developed nations to the damages caused mostly by their greenhouse gas emissions, which are the bulk of what is now in the atmosphere.

Activists readily admit the 800 figure was not a precise head count. “Well, we think it’s 800 but the way we did that was, there were 80 steps" cascading down toward the exit of the climate conference, climate activist Alex Rafalowicz told Bloomberg BNA today. “And we filled that with 10 people on each step” before walking en masse to a work from a building in downtown Warsaw, where they remained Friday.

Gone from the Stadion Narodowy—Warsaw’s National Stadium/conference center—were most representatives of Oxfam International, ActionAid International, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund International, 350.Org, and the entire International Trade Union Confederation, which represents more than 170 million workers in 156 countries and territories.

The groups have criticized overt signs of carmakers' and the coal industry's corporate sponsorships at the talks. And they say the typhoon that slammed the Philippines just days before the climate talks started rammed home the need for tens of billions of dollars from industrialized nations to alert populations to such storms and respond to their aftermath.

Not all environmental groups have bolted from the talks. For example, the U.S.-based Union of Concerns Scientists' team is still here, monitoring progress inside the conference toward the global climate deal negotiators vow will be signed in Paris in 2015.