COPENHAGEN — The 10-day-old climate talks ran into disputes and paralysis as they entered a critical stage Wednesday, just two days before President Barack Obama and more than 100 other national leaders hope to sign a historic agreement to fight global warming.
Poorer nations stalled the talks in resistance to what they saw as efforts by the rich to impose decisions falling short of strong commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and to help those countries hurt by climate change. Conference observers said, however, that negotiators still had time to reach agreements.
Outside the meeting site in Copenhagen's suburbs, police fired pepper spray and beat protesters with batons as hundreds of demonstrators sought to disrupt the 193-nation conference, the latest action in days of demonstrations to demand "climate justice" — firm steps to combat global warming. Police said 260 protesters were detained.
Earlier, behind closed doors, negotiators dealing with core issues debated until just before dawn without setting new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries' efforts to cope with coming climate change, key elements of any deal.
"I regret to report we have been unable to reach agreement," John Ashe of Antigua, chairman of one negotiating group, told the conference.