Police gas waves of climate demos

Kevin Smith: UNFCCC is not too concerned about hearing the voices of those most affected by climate change
17 December 2009
In the media

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change denied entry to thousands of members of non- governmental groups.

Published at
The Standard

Danish police yesterday used tear gas and clubs to stop a march on the global climate summit in Copenhagen, arresting 230 people, as anger boiled over at the exclusion of activists from the high- stakes talks.

Their arrests came as around 1,500 protesters, with drums and techno music, tried to descend on the main conference hall, Bella Center, where the world's top leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao, were arriving to draft a plan to fight global warming.

Police with dogs set up roadblocks at the venue, firing tear gas near the center and pushing back another group of demonstrators with clubs as a helicopter hovered overhead.

"Shame on you," demonstrators yelled at police as they broke up the rally.

The protesters accused the 194 nations meeting in Copenhagen of seeking less than robust solutions to climate change.

"The message we want to get across is that we need a radical new climate agenda," said Kevin Smith, a Climate Justice Action activist.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is running the high-stakes 12-day conference, denied entry to thousands of members of non- governmental groups, saying the Bella Center is at maximum capacity. The UNFCCC said the 46,000 people who went to Copenhagen for the conference cannot enter a center that has room for no more than 15,000.

But activists saw different reasons.

"More than anything else, this signals that the UNFCCC is not too concerned about really hearing the voices of those most affected by climate change," Smith said.

Wen is expected to address the summit to elaborate China's stance.

China and the United States - the world's two biggest carbon polluters - have brushed aside European calls for concessions on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the thorniest issue of all at the UN talks.

The summit aims to secure national pledges to curb the heat-trapping carbon gases and set up a mechanism to provide billions of dollars for poor countries facing worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.

China has vowed to reduce carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, but experts say its emissions could still double.

Beijing also has said developed nations should take the lead in committing to substantial emission reduction targets and provide financial and technical help to poor countries.


 Published by The Standard