Global Protests Demand Action on Climate Change

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Agence France-Presse

Global Protests Demand Action on Climate Change

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Demonstrators marched near the U.N. conference in Copenhagen. (Bob Strong/Reuters)

COPENHAGEN - Thousands of activists demonstrated in central
Copenhagen Saturday to turn up the heat on global warming, amid people
power protests across the world to press for action instead of words.

The
heart of the Danish capital was a sea of blue as environmentalists and
anti-capitalist demonstrators gathered for a six-kilometre (four-mile)
march that would take them to the venue of the ongoing UN conference.

The
demonstrators wore sky blue blue raincoats or carried blue umbrellas at
the call of environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Nigerian Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, delivered a fiery speech to the crowd.

"We
cannot allow carbon traders to damage the world. There is no such thing
as clean coal or clean crude. Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal
in the hole," he said.

"To those who want to pollute at home and plant a tree somewhere we say no," he added.

The
demonstrators included a group from China sponsored by businessman
James Hong, a designer and clothing manufacturer from Fujian province,
who paid out of his own pocket for 15 of his employees to come to
Copenhagen.

They unfurled a banner that read "Save our planet, China's contribution".

"We are not from the government," Hong said. "We just want a solution to global warming."

Central
Copenhagen was in virtual lockdown, with thousands of police deployed
or on standby ahead of the march. Related article: Danish police brace
for mass protests

Other demonstrators sported banners that read:
"There is no planet B," "Change the politics not the climate," and
"Nature does not compromise".

A thorny issue was clearly the responsibility of the bigger polluters to do more to arrest climate change.

Others meanwhile said the haves should not be let off the hook by being allowed to buy carbon credits from other countries.

"It's
a question of justice, we must cut carbon emissions at home instead of
buying carbon credits elsewhere," said Susann Scherbarth, a 28-year-old
German activist from Friends of the Earth.

Danish police meanwhile issued a strong warning to potential rioters.

"They
must not cross certain limits," said police second in command Per
Larsen, singling out the radical leftist group "Never Trust a Cop",
which has called for an anti-capitalist demonstration at 1:30 pm (1230
GMT) in the city centre.

Police have also begun extraditing
offenders. Two Britons were deported for vandalism and spitting on a
police officer and a Frenchman was sent back for breaching firearm
laws, police commissioner Lars Christian Borg told AFP.

Within
the Bella Center congress hall, Nobel prizewinner Archbishop Desmond
Tutu was to lead children in creating "a sea of candles" representing a
call from generations imperilled by climate change.

Australia,
the developed world's worst per capita polluter, kicked off
demonstrations planned in 130 cities worldwide, with up to 50,000
people taking to the streets nationwide, according to organisers.

In
Indonesia, third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and
the United States, activists rallied outside the US embassy in Jakarta
to urge the superpower to support developing nations in reducing
emissions.

In the Philippines hundreds of protesters wearing red
shirts banged on drums and sang songs outside Manila's City Hall
demanding global action on climate change.

Scientists say rising
concentrations of greenhouse gases -- mainly the invisible by-product
of burning oil, gas and coal -- are trapping solar heat, warming
Earth's surface and disrupting weather patterns.

If these
emissions fail to peak less than a decade from now, the world is doomed
to more vicious droughts, flood, rising seas and storms, spelling
hunger, homelessness and disease for millions, the experts say.

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