LONDON - Environmental activists have burst onto the floor of London's International Petroleum Exchange and halted trading in protest at oil industry activity the day the Kyoto climate treaty has come into force.
Some 20 Greenpeace protesters led by director Stephen Tindale stormed the trading floor on Wednesday and brought business in Brent crude oil and gas oil futures to a halt before being beaten back by outraged traders.
Greenpeace protesters sit down at the entrance to the International Petroleum Exchange in London on Wednesday. Activists burst on to the floor of the exchange and halted trading in a protest at oil industry activity the day the Kyoto climate treaty came into force. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
"It was to send a message to the oil industry on the day Kyoto comes into force that business as usual is no longer an option," Tindale told Reuters by telephone from the central London building on Wednesday.
"The oil industry has been key to preventing progress on climate change which is why it has taken so long for Kyoto to come into force. But scientists are telling us we are getting dangerously close to the point of no return," he added.
"To be ramping up production -- which the oil industry seems to be doing -- on the day Kyoto comes into force is simply irresponsible," he added.
An IPE spokeswoman said open outcry trading was suspended for an hour but electronic trading continued throughout."
The protesters spend a short time on the trading floor with foghorns and balloons to make their message clear before being forced back.
"I have to say we weren't listened to by the traders. They were more interested in punching us than listening to us," Tindale said.
Under Kyoto, developed nations will have to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Supporters of the 141-nation pact say it is a tiny step to slow global warming by imposing legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions in 35 developed nations, mainly from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.
Climate experts fear projected temperature rises could disrupt farming, raise sea levels by melting icecaps, cause more extreme weather like hurricanes or droughts, spread diseases and wipe out thousands of animal and plant species by 2100.
The United States pulled out in 2001, saying Kyoto was too costly, based on unreliable science, and unfairly excluded big developing nations like India, China and Brazil, which account for a third of the world's population.
The Greenpeace raid was one of a number of protests staged across the globe.
Green groups marked the day with protests outside U.S. embassies and consulates, street parades in Japan and by carving fast-melting ice sculptures of kangaroos in Australia.
© 2005 Reuters Ltd.