Best of our wild blogs: 8 Dec 12

A sparrowhawk’s kill
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Elysian field
from The annotated budak

Our (Green) Singapore Conversation
from AsiaIsGreen

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ACRES urges Resorts World Sentosa to release dolphins

Imelda Saad Channel NewsAsia 7 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE: Animals rights group ACRES has issued a final ultimatum to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to release its 24 captive dolphins.

Otherwise, ACRES (The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) said it will launch a full-fledged boycott against not just RWS, but all Genting properties.

The dolphins, which were flown in from the Philippines, are now under quarantine before being displayed as part of the resort's new Marine Life Park.

ACRES told Channel NewsAsia that it took pictures of the dolphins in quarantine on Thursday at 5pm.

In a statement, it said the dolphins are housed in "appalling conditions; in tiny barren swimming pools".

It added surrounding the dolphins within four walls compromises their welfare.

ACRES quoted a report by The Humane Society of the United States and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, which states that "Smooth concrete walls usually surround these sound-sensitive animals and inhibit or discourage the natural use of their acoustic abilities".

The group has asked RWS to work with it and environmental group, the Earth Island Institute, to rehabilitate and release the dolphins back into the wild.

Animal rights groups in both the Singapore and Philippines have been lobbying for the release of the dolphins since they were captured in the waters of the Solomon Islands.

Mr Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES, said: "We have tried our very best to establish a dialogue with RWS, but they have ignored our calls for meetings and turned a deaf ear to our concerns. RWS continues with their plans to confine the dolphins, despite the deaths of three dolphins under their care and scientific studies confirming that the trade in these dolphins was unsustainable and pushed this species one step closer towards extinction in the Solomon Islands.

"ACRES appeals to RWS to review the facts provided to them and reconsider their decision. We hope that we won't need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this."

Twenty-seven dolphins were captured from the Solomon Islands between 2008 and 2009, and sent to Malaysia and the Philippines for training while the Marine Life Park was under construction.

One of the dolphins died en route to Singapore last month, while two others died in 2010 in Malaysia from bacterial infections.

Singapore's Marine Life Park has said that its acquisition of the Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins followed international requirements.

- CNA/de

RWS' top man defends dolphin plan
Straits Times 8 Dec 12;

RESORTS World Sentosa's (RWS) head honcho defended its decision to have dolphins at its marine park, by emphasising that the species is not endangered and that the company was fulfilling the terms of its proposal.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Genting Group, RWS' parent company, said at a press conference yesterday that if the bottlenose dolphins were endangered, the Government would not have allowed them to be imported. "What we are doing here is part of our proposal, which the Singapore Government will expect us to fulfil," he said. "We are continuing with our commitment to deliver the best oceanarium in the world. We want it to be enjoyed by everyone."

He added that the importation of dolphins was strictly within the law.

RWS' plans to have dolphins at its recently opened Marine Life Park have been dogged by controversy. Animal rights groups such as Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had called for RWS to abort its plans for the dolphins as early as 2009.

The calls grew louder in 2010, when two dolphins died at a holding area in Langkawi in Malaysia, and last month, when one of the 25 dolphins died on its way to Singapore.

RWS chief executive Tan Hee Teck yesterday reiterated that the welfare of all the animals in the resort is important, and it will continue its work on conservation and educating the public on the issue.

Yesterday, Acres issued RWS an ultimatum, saying it would boycott all of Genting Group's properties if it does not rehabilitate the remaining 24 dolphins and return them to the wild.

"We hope that we won't need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this," said Mr Louis Ng, Acres' chief executive.

He added that the group also highlighted to RWS yesterday that the 12-minute fireworks display to mark the grand opening might "compromise the dolphins' welfare" as they are sensitive to sounds.

He cited an incident in Switzerland, where a dolphin was found dead after a techno event was held near the aquarium it was housed in.


Dolphins housed in unsuitable conditions: Animal rights group
AsiaOne 7 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE - Animal welfare group ACRES said in a media statement that the dolphins purchased by Resorts World Sentosa are housed in unsuitable conditions.

They also said that a 12-minute fireworks display scheduled for Friday night may compromise the dolphins' welfare, as the close proximity and loud noises may disorientate and distress them.

Below is the full statement from ACRES:

ACRES yesterday viewed the wild-caught dolphins purchased by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). We regret that the dolphins are being housed in in appalling conditions; in tiny barren swimming pools.

Surrounding the dolphins with four walls compromises their welfare. A report by The Humane Society of the United States and the World Society for the Protection of Animals states that "Smooth concrete walls usually surround these sound-sensitive animals and inhibit or discourage the natural use of their acoustic abilities".

ACRES is issuing a final ultimatum to RWS: work with ACRES and Earth Island Institute to rehabilitate and release the dolphins back into the wild or ACRES will launch a full-fledged boycott against not just Resorts World, but all Genting properties from next month onwards.

"We have tried our very best to establish a dialogue with RWS, but they have ignored our calls for meetings and turned a deaf ear to our concerns. RWS continues with their plans to confine the dolphins, despite the deaths of three dolphins under their care and scientific studies confirming that the trade in these dolphins was unsustainable and pushed this species one step closer towards extinction in the Solomon Islands.

"ACRES appeals to RWS to review the facts provided to them and reconsider their decision. We hope that we won't need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this," said Mr Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES.

ACRES also contacted RWS today to highlight that the 12-minute fireworks display scheduled for tonight may compromise the dolphins' welfare, as the close proximity and loud noises may disorientate and distress them. A similar incident occurred in Switzerland where Shadow - an eight-year-old dolphin - was found dead after a huge techno event was held near the aquarium he was housed in.

Bottlenose dolphins 'not endangered': Genting Group chairman
Animal welfare group says fireworks at opening ceremony could distress RWS dolphins
Today Online 7 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE - It was a question he said he had hoped to avoid. But with controversy swirling continuing over Resorts World Sentosa's import of wild-caught dolphins for its Marine Life Park, Genting Group chairman Lim Kok Thay commented on the issue today following a question from an Indonesian journalist.

"I cannot emphasise enough that the dolphins we're talking about are definitely not on the endangered list," he said, citing how some have perceived otherwise.

The Singapore Government allowed their import, and the Marine Life Park concept was "planned a long time ago" and part of the company's proposal when bidding for the integrated resort, Mr Lim said.

His comments at the press conference ahead of RWS' grand opening tonight, came as conservationists continued their call for the 24 bottlenose dolphins to be rehabilitated back into the wild.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) also conveyed to RWS that the noise from fireworks planned for last evening's ceremony could disorientate and distress the dolphins. Last year, a dolphin in a Swiss aquarium died after a rave event was held nearby, said Acres' chief executive Louis Ng.

Acres also said it had viewed the dolphins' enclosures and regretted their "tiny barren swimming pools". The pools' smooth concrete walls inhibit the natural use of the dolphins' acoustic abilities, according to The Humane Society of the United States and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Mr Ng said it would boycott RWS and all Genting properties from next month if the dolphins were not released.

The controversy erupted after the capture of 27 dolphins off the Solomon Islands for RWS, which conservationists say pushes the species closer towards extinction in the area. Three of them have died.

Genting's Mr Lim said the dolphins are part of RWS' commitment to deliver the "best oceanarium in the world" to be enjoyed by all visitors. "Especially in this city, not everyone is fortunate enough to take a trip outside into the wild or to learn scuba diving… we are opening up an opportunity for people to enjoy this same thing a lot easier," he said.

"This opens up curiosity as to what else is out there in that environment and I'm sure they'll try to then go out and look at the real ocean itself," he said. "Maybe that's how the tourism industry works - you need to get the public to be interested in what you're doing, then they will travel more. I think having seen it here in Singapore, it doesn't stop at that."

RWS chief executive Tan Hee Teck said it respects "divergent views" on the issue and that "the welfare of all the animals is of utmost importance to us". The oceanarium - the world's largest with 100,000 fishes from 800 species - has garnered "good response" and its educational and conservation centre can educate children and the public about marine life and marine biology, he said. NEO CHAI CHIN

RWS forecasts 17 million visitors for 2013
Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 7 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE : Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) has said it is expecting 17 million visitors for 2013 and plans to have more rooms to house guests.

It is looking at building more hotels away from the integrated resort to cater to cost-conscious travellers.

The first one, sited near the Jurong East train station, is targeted for completion by end-2014.

The plan is to offer four-star accommodation with some 500 rooms.

Visitors to RWS will soon see new attractions like a theme park ride based on the children's show "Sesame Street". The integrated resort is also introducing a new resident show at its Festive Grand theatre in 2013.

RWS has welcomed 45 million guests since its opening in 2010.

Genting Group, which owns the integrated resort, wants to lure potential visitors who may not wish to stay at its more expensive hotels.

Hence, the strategy is to site accommodation further away, not on prime land, to capture the market of travellers who prefer cheaper rooms.

While the novelty factor for Singaporeans is tapering off, RWS expects gaming revenue from foreigners to increase, though at a slower pace.

RWS said its strength lies in its ability to offer family-themed entertainment, apart from the casino. And Asia will remain its core market, with efforts to attract tourists geared towards the region.

Tan Hee Teck, chief executive of Resorts World Sentosa, said: "We have one great end-destination where someone can come here and spend three days, fully-occupied. I think there is no other destination, no other product that can compare with what we have."

RWS has 16 million visitors to date for 2012.

Its recently-opened Marine Life Park is expected to pull in an extra one million visitors to Sentosa the next year.

The park has attracted controversy for its import of dolphins.

Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Genting Group and Resorts World Sentosa, said: "These are not an endangered species, so it is really no different from, if you want to put it, the panda bears.

"So what is important here is that every care must be taken, and we are doing our best in that regards."

RWS has generated over 13,000 jobs. Seven in 10 staff are Singaporeans.

The integrated resort estimates it will re-coup its costs in three years or so.

- CNA/ck/ms

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Iskandar Waterfront Holdings gets the task of remaking Johor Baru

B.K. Sidhu The Star 8 Dec 12;

TAN Sri Lim Kang Hoo was beaming with excitement to show off his grand plan for the makeover of Johor Baru when StarBizWeek met him for an interview recently.

He had just got the plans approved for the makeover of the central business district (CBD) and the eastern side of the tip of Johor Baru (JB). The makeover of the CDB will change the face of several streets such as Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Jalan Segget, Jalan Ibrahim, and Jalan Meldrum which now house buildings that have been abandoned for a long time.

In his opinion, and that of others, JB has not recovered from the property glut after the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

On the eastern side or the Tebrau coast, he wants to create a lifestyle haven similar to that of the Gold Coast in Australia. He is hoping to attract expatriates who are going to work at the oil and gas hub that is taking shape in Pengerang to reside at the Tebrau coast.

Combined with the Danga Bay development which is located at the western side of the southern tip of JB, he has over 1,619ha that will be developed into an waterfront city fronting Singapore over several years.

The land is parked under Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH), which is the master developer of parts of JB city. He owns 60% of IWH via Credence Resources Sdn Bhd and his partner in this venture is the Johore state government via Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ), which holds the remaining 40% stake in IWH. Both EPF and Khazanah Nasional Bhd has indirect stake in IWH held via Iskandar Investments Bhd.

IWH's over 1619ha forms part of Iskandar Malaysia's 221,707ha and Iskandar is being built into a metropolis of the south. With the developments taking shape in Iskandar from theme parks to an edu-city and a water front city, investors are trickling in.

Singapore has shown its willingness to participate in the development but there is a need to really change the CBD into a more vibrant city to attract more investors from across the causeway and other countries. The other developer of plots of land in Iskandar Malaysia is Khazanah.

“Fifteen years ago no one wanted to lend me a dollar and people used to a laugh at me when I showed the concept of creating JB into a waterfront city like Hong Kong-Shenzhen. They thought I was crazy. But now, they are same ones telling me that JB is going to be another Hong Kong-Shenzhen and I am not even talking,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.

This week he sealed his biggest deal yet. He sold 55 acres to one of China's biggest property developers, Country Garden Holdings Ltd, for nearly RM1bil and he says a lot more deals are in the pipeline including selling of an island made of reclaimed to an influential Singapore company. And all of IWH's land is sold on a joint venture basis except the 55 acres to Country Garden.

CBD the heritage city

Abandoned and half closed shops are a common sight at the CBD and it has become an eyesore. Some are also infested by the squatters. Some owners of the buildings and shops have migrated and to track them down has been a big challenge for Lim. He managed to trace and has bought some 50 plots in various locations, the latest being a plot of 133ha at Jalan Wong Ah Fook from an old man who had migrated and was the seventh generation owner.

This is part of the makeover process and is necessary if JB is to be turned into a waterfront city.

“You cannot be attracting investors to JB and still have squatters in the city. We need a vibrant city that has all the ingredients of a modern and world class city to be able to attract the investors,” he says, adding that when he buys over a plot that has squatters, he has to compensate and relocate them.

“We want to beautify the city, clean up the sea bed and sewerage, improve the landscape and traffic flow. There will also be a city tram and this new CDB will be themed as a heritage city,” he says. The makeover of the city is the state government's project and IWH has mandated to see it through.

The city will be divided up into sections where there will be food and beverage areas, China town, Little India, a Malay street, and night-life attractions.

“We are doing all this for the people in the state and that will create economic activity and at the same time we want to attract some of the Johoreans who have migrated to return and participate in the economic activity in their state.

“We will also put up a city college, a medical related college, service apartments, budget hotels, convert old heritage buildings into boutique hotels and also do up the streets. Jalan Wong Ah Fook will be turned into a pedestrian street and phase one which includes the redevelopment of Jalan Wong Ah Fook should be ready by mid- or end-2014,” he says.

Work on beautification will begin in the first quarter of 2013 and the Johor state government will dish out tenders for the beautification of the CBD. It will also get involved in the cleaning and reclaiming of Sungai Segget, right now has the indignation of being labelled one of the smelliest rivers.

To develop the area into a CBD, he says options will be given to the existing land and shop owners to follow designs that have been approved and keep their shops open.

“We can work out joint ventures with them or they can sell it to us or develop themselves. Our approach is very friendly. What we want is to create economic activity and attract tourists and Malaysians into JB,” he adds.

For the beautification of the CBD the state government will invest RM200mil and an additional RM200mil will be invested by the Federal Government for the cleaning of Sungai Segget and putting up a new sewerage treatment plant.

The east-west side

The next thing on his plate after developing certain plots of land in Danga Bay is the Tebrau Coast. Danga Bay will be developed into a premier waterfront destination with features such as a cruise ship terminal, marina, fisherman's wharf and tower blocks to house commercial offices, hotels, exhibition and convention centres, and residential properties.

“We were asked to do a master plan for the eastern corridor and now we have obtained the approvals. It is only right to now tackle the east side after we have developed some parts of the west side (Danga Bay) and are also going to begin works on the CBD,” he says.

Tebrau Coast will replicate the Gold Coast model where there will be high rise buildings comprising apartments, hotels, commercial buildings and also retail outlets.

“We will be working with the Australian Walker Group on this over a 81ha site. The lifestyle product in Gold Coast is selling like hot cakes and we want the same concept here.

“We also have a joint venture with DiJaya Corp to develop the land over 81ha there,” he adds. All these developments will be built over 15 years.

There are several rivers in the Tebrau Coast that will need to be cleaned and land reclaimed. They include Sungai Plentong, Sungai Lunchoo, Sungai Reko and Sungai Tebrau.

Lim is known to have the expertise to reclaim land and as a result of that he has managed to grow the landbank of IWH to over 1619ha. But that acerage also includes the land that IWH has got after taking control of Tebrau Teguh Bhd.

With him buying more plots of land and with the reclamation work underway, it will be no surprise if IWH's acerage increases to over 2023ha.

“Half of our land in Danga Bay has been reclaimed. It used to be a swamp area and that is why the cost is high. We have reclaimed 324ha of land. We have a proven track record of reclaiming land and now we are going to do the same at the Tebrau coast. We are starting all over again,” he says.

Of the 1619ha, half of it is at Danga Bay. The Tebrau coast comprise 405ha of which 162ha has been sold thus far.

Some of the ongoing projects at the 1619ha owned by IWH include the RM500mil Azea Residences by a Singapore group, the RM105mil Plazzo Hotel & Serviced Suites by Waz Lian Group, RM20mil Tune Hotel project, Dijaya Corp Bhd is investing to build a high-end mixed development project that will have a gross development value (GDV) of about RM5bil. Burnsfield is building retail and commercial buildings that will have a GDV of about RM4bil. The Country Garden project will have a GDV of RM18bil.

Avoiding the glut

The deal with Country Garden took four months to conclude but some others are taking their time because some companies have longer evaluation and approval process than others. He is in talks with several parties, some of them are GLCs and that requires government approval.

But what he is excited about is the sale of a man-made island in the east side to a Singapore party. There are other investors from Singapore who are interested in the fisherman's wharf, which is one of the 10 projects in Danga Bay.

“They (the influential Singapore party) are haggling for a lower price,” he says.

But there are other Singapore parties looking at different parcels and even Country Gardens wants to buy more land in Danga Bay.

“The Indonesians are looking to buy some land to create lifestyle projects,” he adds.

While he wants a variety of investors, he is also vary that if they cannot sell their high rise commercial buildings, apartments or commercial units, it would create another glut and that is something he wants to avoid.

Having learnt the experience of the 1997 crisis, he says land will only be sold in stages so that there are takers for whatever is being developed. “We have to ensure each developer has product differentiation so that demand for their products will always be there and this prevents a glut,” he says.

When he started out, Lim bought land for RM1.50 psf to RM3 psf. Now the same land is being sold at RM300 psf to RM500 psf depending on location. He can't say how much more the land will appreciate given the total development at Iskandar Malaysia, which comprise of over 221,707ha.

“I can't say how much more it will go up or what is the valuations are now because we have not valued the land but we have commissioned someone to do it recently,” he says.

He adds that “for now we are still selling at early bird prices but eventually we would have to tender the land and sell it to the highest bidder.”

“What we are creating is an international waterfront city. The buildings will all be high rise as just to clean up the rivers and reclaim the land we have to buy sand from Pengerang and that costs us a lot of money, hence our land is expansive.

“There is no way we can do landed property or terrace houses on such a land because the cost will be too expensive and nobody will buy a terrace or semi-D for RM10mil. That is why we are modelling our land on Hongkong-Shenzhen and this development will take years because waterfront cities are not built in a day. They can take decades for full realisation,” he says.

Lim also wants to work with developers from different countries, say China, India, Europe, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore so that when there is a problem in their home country, not every developer is affected and the overall development can go on.

Future plans of master developer
The Star 8 Dec 12;

On a free day Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo takes a ride on his helicopter to check out vacant land that he could get his hands on to increase Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) landbank. He also checks out land titles of abandon shophouses and buildings to trace the owners so those sites which house squatters can be redeveloped by IWH, which is the master developer of parts of JB city. He met up with StarBizWeek's B.K. Sidhu recently and here are excerpts of the interview:

The market is saying IWH and Khazanah Nasional Bhd are competing for the same investors. Your comment?

There is no competition as our products are different. Talk about competition, our land is mostly reclaimed land and theirs is inland land. Khazanah and the state government are building catalytic projects to attract local and foreign investors. Over the last two years, there has been a rush to the corridor and since Iskandar Malaysia was launched nearly six years ago, we have seen progress.

What we are creating is an urban city and Nusajaya is mostly landed and semi-D units, theme parks, edu-city, Pinewoods studio, industries and so on. Ours is more open to a lot of multinational companies and we would like the MNCs to come here as the cost of their 2 to 3 year rental in Singapore is the cost of owning a building here. We cater to a lifestyle concept that will attract them. So there is no competition as we are focusing more on high rise buildings.

When will the tram and MRT be ready and will IWH be involved?

The tram will only be there once we get into the second phase of the CBD development as we need a bigger area for the tram to run on and it should be completed by 2016. As for the MRT, the consultants have been appointed but we are not sure of the location as this is being done by the Federal Government.

IWH has seen a boost in its landbank from 486ha just 10 months ago to over 1619ha now. Did you get the land from the state government?

Apart from the take over of Tebrau Teguh which had some land, we have also bought land via bank auctions, took over failed and abandoned projects and from Danaharta. We did not get any land from the government, instead we are buying land. We continue to look for more land and any party that cannot develop the land in the city centre can talk to us. We have also bought about 20ha of land in the CBD which is land owned by people that are fifth to 7th generation and some of these land have been infested with squatters. .

So there is no land from the government.

IWH is hoping that Johoreans who have migrated will return to the state. Are they buying anything?

Amazingly 60% of units and plots of land sold are to Johoreans, 25% are to Singaporean and 15% foreigners.

It is also wrong to say Johoreans cannot afford property in Johor. They just did not have the opportunity as earlier developers were not focusing on lifestyle products like ones in KL and Singapore. The demand for lifestyle product is now (given the influence) from Singapore. Now that there is greater demand for lifestyle products, purchases are picking up.

Who's the next big buyer of land after China's Country Garden purchase of 55 acres of land in Danga Bay?

We are in talks with several parties, some are GLCs and they need government approvals. At least a few hundred acres are under negotiations but at some point we will stop selling when we have achieved the target because we do not want to create a property glut. It is a very focused approach that we have in terms of releasing land for development so that all what is built gets absorbed.

We have learnt as JB experienced the biggest glut from the 1997 Asian economic crisis and it has not fully recovered.

A listing for IWH and REITS in the future?

IWH is growing and there will be recurring income over the next 15 years, we are assured of that. When we sell land we buy more land and with that our acerage grows. All this is done together with the state government agency, KPRJ. So naturally, we will be looking to list IWH and definitely we are looking at next year for the listing though we need sometime to make submissions. We also have not appointed our investment bankers. It will be on Bursa Malaysia and we may even explore a dual listing.

We have one division working on REITS.

What's the plan for the 127ha at Desaru?

We will construct a lifestyle living concept, resort and hotel there as there will be a lot of people who will come because the oil and gas hub is taking shape in Pengerang. They will need housing and we want to attract expatriates.

Again, this land was purchased from Danaharta and not given by the government.

Why you think reclaiming land is better?

When we started 15 years ago. Four contractors ran away because they could not reclaim land at Danga Bay. I decided to buy my own equipment and reclaim the land. We have the expertise and why let the land be soaked in the sea when we can reclaim it and built something on it? Look at Singapore. They have reclaimed a lot of land and expanded their coastline.

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UN climate talks go into overtime in Qatar

Michael Casey Associated Press Yahoo News 8 Dec 12;

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The world's poorest countries, inundated by rising seas and worsening disasters, made a last ditch plea for financial help early Saturday as negotiators at United Nations climate talks struggled to reach an ambitions deal to combat global warming.

The two-week U.N. conference in the Qatar capital of Doha was never meant to yield a global climate pact to curb emissions of greenhouse gases — that has been put off until 2015. But many developing nations said they were increasingly frustrated with the lack of ambition from rich countries on everything from climate aid to the emissions cuts they will make until 2020.

Talks were set to end Friday but they continued into early Saturday with negotiators set to meet in several hours to assess progress.

"The expectations we had for a great deal in Doha is no more. That is dust," said Mohammed Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi who is a lead negotiator for a coalition of poor nations called the Least Developed Countries or LCD.

"We are facing day in and day out the adverse effects of climate change," he said. "Nobody is nearby to rescue them. You see President Obama asking for huge funding for Hurricane Sandy ... But we won't get that scale and magnitude of support."

The biggest fight early Saturday swirled around what is called "loss and damage," a relatively new concept which relates to damages from climate-related disasters. Island nations and LCD have been pushing for some mechanism to deal with this but the United States has pushed back over concerns they might be held liable for the cleanup bill since they are the world's second biggest emitter behind China.

Many scientists say extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy's onslaught on the U.S. East Coast, will become more frequent as the Earth warms, although it is impossible to attribute any individual event to climate change.

"It's becoming the last straw for the small island states, the least develop countries," said Alden Meyer, of the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists. "Seasoned negotiators are coming out of that room in tears, very emotional. They are starting to say what are we doing here? What is the point of these negotiations?"

And with the negotiations on the brink of failure, activists said they were giving up hope that any deal would include tough measures to protect the planet from the effects of global warming.

"The deal in Doha is a recipe for disaster. The deal in Doha is a coffin for the planet," said Michael Dorsey, a professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, speaking outside the negotiations. "We will see the failure to have emission targets sufficiently high enough. We are going to see the failure to move critical resources to countries on the margin in the developing world who desperately need resources to get out ahead of the unfolding climate catastrophe that is playing out around the planet."

Most of the key disputes revolved around money.

Poor countries, especially a coalition of island nations and African countries, came into the talks demanding a timetable on how rich countries will scale up climate change aid for them to $100 billion annually by 2020 — a general pledge that was made three years ago — and how they will raise the money.

But rich nations, including the United States, members of the European Union and Japan remain in the midst of a financial crisis and were not interested in detailed talks on aid at this meeting. The current text on financing agrees only to continue "scaling up" aid until 2020 and delays most detailed decisions until 2013. It includes no midterm targets or mechanisms — such as a tax — for raising the revenue.

Negotiators were also trying to finalize an agreement to formally extend the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions reduction pact for rich countries that expires at the end of this year. One of the sticking points was whether to allow countries to carry over surplus emissions allowances into the next phase as well as to extend it for five or eight years and whether there would be a trigger requiring countries to commit to more ambitions emissions targets at a certain date.

The U.S. never joined the Kyoto accord, while Japan, New Zealand, Canada and Russia don't want to be part of its extension, meaning it would only cover about 15 percent of the world's emissions of greenhouse gases.

Governments have set a deadline of 2015 to agree on a wider deal that would include both developed and developing countries, which now produce a majority of the world's emissions. As part of that, delegates were also trying to make progress on the 2015 work plan and close loopholes that would bring all countries into one negotiating path.

On paper, these issues seemed routine.

But throughout the day, countries took advantage of these meetings to fight over a wide range of issues that included technology transfer to poor, emission commitments by rich countries in the next eight years as well as a demand from Saudi Arabia to discuss ways of helping countries diversify their economies under a new deal.

The Chinese were among the most vocal, at one point trying to insert language into the text that backtracked from the agreement in Durban that requires both rich and poor countries to take binding action to combat climate change when a new deal is set to take effect in 2020.

"We're doing ridiculous things," Chinese delegate Su Wei said, before backing off his demand.

The negotiations were also hampered, delegates and activists said, by a lack of leadership from Qatar. Draft agreements were not ready until the last second and Qatar did nothing to bring together key ministers to hash out a grand deal as past presidents have done.

Still, the talks remained alive and nobody was talking of walking away from the table.

The goal of the U.N. talks is to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius), compared to preindustrial times. Temperatures have already risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 Celsius) above that level, according to the latest report by the U.N.'s top climate body.

A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are on track to rise by up to 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) by the year 2100.

"There is a huge lag between the international policy response and what science is telling us," U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told The Associated Press. "We know that science tends to underestimate the impacts of climate, and so if anything, that gap continues to grow."


AP reporter Karl Ritter contributed to this report.

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