China blocks efforts to protect penguins from warming

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China blocks efforts to protect penguins from warming

BERLIN AP -- China has blocked efforts to step up protection of emperor penguins that are increasingly threatened by the effects of global warming on their natural habitat in Antarctica, officials said Friday.

Dozens of countries had backed giving the world's largest penguins special protection status at a 10 day meeting in Berlin of parties to the Antarctic Treaty. The treaty was forged in 1959 to make sure that the continent remains the preserve of science and free of arms.

The German government, which hosted the May 22 -- June 2 meeting, said on Friday that an overwhelming majority of parties held the belief that there is sufficient scientific evidence for the species to be put under special protection.

While a formal decision was blocked by one party, it said that most countries attending the meeting planned to put in place national measures to protect emperor penguins.

Chinese officials could't be reached for comment. But delegates who spoke on condition of anonymity said Beijing wanted more time to consider the implications of upgrading the protection status of the penguins.

The meeting was partly overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, with many countries speaking out against Russia's attack on the country.

Russia was represented by an official from its embassy in Berlin, with other delegations participating via a video link.

The meeting was able to adopt a package of conservation measures for Antarctica despite differences with Beijing over the penguins and the deep diplomatic discord between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. These included moves to designate four new protected areas in the future and limit tourism to the frozen continent.