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Worldwide Rallies Urge Strong UN Climate Deal


Thousands of demonstrators gather in front of the Bella Center, the venue of the UN climate change conference, in Copenhagen.

Thousands of demonstrators gather in front of the Bella Center, the venue of the UN climate change conference, in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -- Tens of thousands of climate activists marched in Copenhagen today to urge negotiators at UN talks to agree a strong deal to fight global warming in a worldwide "Day of Action."

"There is no planet B" and "Change the politics, not the climate," read banners waved by demonstrators in the Danish capital.

Some activists dressed as polar bears, some as penguins with signs saying "Save the Humans!"

Some held a giant balloon of an inflatable snowman, under threat of melting from a warming caused mainly by burning fossil fuels that the UN panel of climate scientists says will bring desertification, floods, heat waves, and rising seas.

Most of the rally was in a carnival atmosphere but police detained a group of about 200-300 black-clad activists at the rear after some bottles were thrown. The Ritzau news agency said at least 62 were held.

Estimates of the number of people in the march under chilly sunny skies varied from a police estimate of 25,000 to 100,000 given by organizers, who hope the rallies will put pressure on a summit of 110 world leaders in Copenhagen on December 17-18.

"There is a lot to fight for in the remaining week of negotiations," Kumi Naidoo, chair of the organizing group TckTckTck, told Reuters. "Time is running out."

Rallies were held around the world, hoping to influence delegates half-way through slow-moving 190-nation talks from December 7-18 in the Danish capital to work out a strong, legally binding UN deal to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Thousands of Australians held a "Walk Against Warming" and activists said 4,000 events, such as marches or candlelit vigils, were being held from Fiji to the United States to show support for deep cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

The main group of activists took a 6-kilometer route out of the city to the Bella Center where negotiators were meeting.

Shout

Caroline, a Danish girl aged 7, carried a homemade sign saying: "Look after our world until I grow up".

"Mountains are changing, glaciers are melting," said Nepalese Sherpa Pertamba, who came to Denmark to demonstrate with a group of 30 mountaineers. "Now is the time to think about future generations."

In Sydney, protesters carried placards saying "I like clean energy and I vote," "No meat, no heat," and "No new coal mines," a reference to Australia's status as one of the world's leading exporters of coal.

Inside the conference hall in Copenhagen, delegates claimed progress on some fronts but the hardest decisions on cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions and funding to help the poor are likely to be left for the summit.

"We have made considerable progress over the course of the first week," Connie Hedegaard, the Danish cabinet minister who presides over talks, told delegates.

Delegates said negotiators had advanced on texts such as defining how new green technologies such as wind and solar power can be supplied to developing nations and in promoting use of forests to soak up greenhouse gases.

But delegates said there were deep splits on issues such as raising funds for poor nations and sharing out the burden of greenhouse gas emissions curbs.

"The next week is going to be crucial," said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN panel of climate scientists.

The Pacific Island of Tuvalu, fearing that rising sea levels could wipe it off the map, stuck to its calls for consideration of a radical new treaty that would force far deeper cuts in greenhouse gases than those under consideration.

"The fate of my country rests in your hands," Ian Fry, leading the Tuvalu delegation, told the meeting. "I make this as a strong and impassioned plea."
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