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Flap over anti-US toy ducks at UN climate talks

Source:  Copyright 2005, Reuters
Date:  December 9, 2005
Original URL: Status DEAD

Environmentalists handed out 150 plastic ducks at an international climate conference on Friday in a joking stab at U.S. opposition to new U.N.-led talks on global warming.

"Some of them quack, or at least squeak," John Lanchbery of Birdlife International told Reuters at the talks in Montreal. "We left one on a chair outside the U.S. office. They were not very amused."

Environmentalists emptied Montreal toy shops of ducks after chief U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson left a session of talks overnight, saying a Canadian call for dialogue about new ways to confront climate change had all the elements of forcing Washington to accept new commitments.

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck then it is a duck," delegates quoted him as saying.

They said he apparently meant the text was a thinly disguised call for hard negotiations -- not dialogue -- about caps on emissions of heat-trapping gases, opposed by Washington.

Trying to lighten the two-week talks, due to end on Friday, environmentalists have also given out buttons criticizing President George W. Bush's refusal to sign up for caps on emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for warming the planet.

"Emissions accomplished," one badge says, showing a picture of Bush on a U.S. aircraft carrier when he stood on May 1, 2003, in front of a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished," in the Iraq war.

Washington pulled out of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol in 2001, under which about 40 industrialized nations have to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The United States says Kyoto would cost jobs and wrongly excludes developing nations from a first set of targets to 2012. Instead, Washington is investing heavily in new technologies such as hydrogen to confront climate change.

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