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Thousands march globally calling for climate action

Copenhagen — Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets or were preparing to march on Saturday calling for climate negotiators in Copenhagen to strike a deal to prevent global warming.

The Danish capital was described as looking like a military zone as authorities prepared for the arrival of activists from all over the world.

Hours before the demonstration in Copenhagen was due to kick off, protesters were out in force around Asia, waving banners and chanting slogans urging action from the climate conference.

In Australia organisers said around 50,000 people had taken to the streets nationwide, wearing sky-blue shoelaces in a call for a strong and binding agreement in Copenhagen.

One organiser, James Dannenberg, said: "We want (world leaders) to bring home a treaty, we want them to stand by the Pacific and our neighbours there. And we want them to deliver and ensure a safe climate future for us all."

Thousands of activists gathered in front of the parliament house in Canberra, while 10,000-strong crowds marched through Sydney, Melbourne and other major cities.

In Hong Kong men, women and children marched, some dressed as pandas, while others held life rings bearing the slogan "Climate Change Kills. Act Now. Save Lives."

Indonesians rallied in front of the US embassy in Jakarta calling for help for developing nations in reducing greenhouse gases.

A crowd chanted "US is the biggest emitter" and unfurled banners that read "US is the carbon mafia leader" and "Be a part of a legally binding agreement.”

And in the Philippines students staged a three-hour demonstration outside Manila’s City Hall.

Protests are planned from Kabul to the Arctic Circle, with Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu and former Irish President Mary Robinson to preside over a special vigil in Copenhagen.

Organisers in Denmark forecast 60,000 to 80,000 to march, while police drawn from across the country braced for crowds they estimate will be at about 50,000.

On Friday, authorities rounded up dozens of anti-capitalist demonstrators in a bid to forestall possible violence.

Protesters were still arriving late Friday by bus, train, plane and boat from Berlin, Bremen, London, Leeds, Amsterdam, Milan and a dozen other European cities.

Helicopters buzzed in the skies while armoured police vans and canine squads patrolled the streets, amid fears Saturday’s march could be joined by violent far-left groups.

"It looks like a military zone, the police are everywhere," said Gerardo Gambirazio, an American geography researcher who was checking out the goings-on in the city.

The six-kilometre (four-mile) march, masterminded by 515 organisations from 67 countries, will depart at 1300 GMT from the Christiansborg Castle, crossing the city to end up at the Bella Centre where the summit will be underway.

Police beefed up security at Denmark’s land and sea borders to prevent troublemakers from entering the country amid fears of the march being joined by violent far-left groups.

Shop keepers and businesses were warned of possible violence.

One of the march’s main organisers, Oxfam, has lined up celebrities to join in a rally before the protests sets out, including Danish-Peruvian model Helena Christensen and Bollywood actor Rahul Bose.

At the conference the previous day developing nations rejected as "insignificant" an EU pledge of 7.2 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars) to help them tackle global warming.

The accord, which would see the money paid over three years, came a week before 110 heads of state and government convene in Copenhagen for the finale of the 12-day conference.

"The fact that Europe is going to put a figure on the table will, I think, be hugely encouraging to the process," said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. "We will then have to see what other rich countries are going to put on the table."

But in Copenhagen, the Group of 77 developing nations — actually a caucus of 130 states that includes China — said the proposal fails to address the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.

"I believe they are not only insignificant, they actually breed even more distrust on the intentions of European leaders on climate change," said Lumumba Stanislaus Dia-Ping of Sudan.

Marlowe Hood and Richard Ingham/AFP/Expatica