European protests demand tough Copenhagen climate deal
Protesters in London, Brussels, Paris, Stockholm and Dublin took to the streets to call for a far-reaching international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the UN-led talks starting on Monday.London -- Tens of thousands of people across Europe demonstrated for action on climate change on Saturday, two days before world leaders gather in Copenhagen for landmark talks on tackling global warming.
Protesters in London, Brussels, Paris, Stockholm and Dublin took to the streets to call for a far-reaching international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the UN-led talks starting on Monday.
As about 20,000 people marched through central London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised to heed their concerns.
"I think the people of the world, being outspoken as we've seen in the demonstration today... they're propelling us as leaders to take the action that is necessary," Brown said after meeting some of demonstrators.
He added: "The scientific evidence is very clear, that there is a climate change problem we've got to address.
"All of the world now recognises this at a national government level and that's why Copenhagen is going to be the coming-together of governments to make an international plan to deal with climate change."
The summit is aimed at forging a new pact to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and their impact after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and will be attended by US President Barack Obama among other world leaders.
Belgian climatology professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told AFP he was "very optimistic" that a deal could be reached.
Many of those protesting in London said it was a rare chance to take action, including Juliana Smith, 49, who said: "We are a normal family and this is our chance to say something. We feel powerless most of the time."
About 13,000 people marched in Glasgow, another rally took place in Belfast and a few hundred turned out in Dublin.
"This is the first time we have seen such a large coming together of people from all walks of life across all sectors of UK society, in such an active demonstration of how passionately they care about climate change," said Ashok Sinha, director of Stop Climate Chaos which organised the London protest.
In Brussels, up to 15,000 people of all ages, many in family groups, marched through the city wearing all shades of green and carrying banners, as European delegates began their journey from there to Copenhagen.
The passengers of a special train dubbed the "Climate Express" included negotiators for the governments of France, Belgium and Luxembourg who will be joined by their German counterparts in Cologne.
The train at full capacity will produce 14.2 kilos of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger, compared to 43.6 kilos for a car and 82.4 kilos for a plane, the organisers said.
"The climate is a real worry for many people and it is time the politicians take that on board," said Michel Genet, head of Greenpeace Belgium and the Climate Coalition of environmental groups.
"We want the Copenhagen agreement to be an ambitious one."
In Berlin, activists disguised as the leaders of the United States, Germany, China and Senegal sat in a huge aquarium at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, holding 'negotiations' around a table as the tank slowly filled with water.
In Stockholm, more than 200 protesters marched to the royal palace, arriving to the strains of Swedish pop band Europe's 1986 hit The final Countdown.
And in France, hundreds of people staged loud demonstrations in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille and other cities, banging on drums and cooking pots to "keep up the noise" on climate change.
The events were timed for 12:18 pm, referring to the closing date of the conference of December 18.
"With this pressure our leaders can be made to feel responsible for the whole population of the planet," Green Party chief Cecile Duflot said.