EU finance ministers locked in by green protesters

BRUSSELS Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:13am EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Green protesters barred the entry to European Union headquarters on Tuesday, urging finance ministers inside to bail out the planet and devote billions of euros to help poor nations tackle climate change.

Success at United Nations talks in December to find a successor to the Kyoto protocol -- the U.N.'s main tool against global warming -- could hinge on whether cash will be found for a fund to persuade poor nations also to help tackle the problem.

"Save the climate, bail out the planet," chanted the group of around 100 Greenpeace activists who chained themselves to the gates outside the EU Council, where ministers were discussing how much the bloc should contribute to this climate fund.

A Reuters photographer said no one could get in or out of the main entrance of the building, which also has a back exit, but that police had started to dislodge the protesters. The police arrested several demonstrators, a Reuters cameraman said.

"Finance ministers are giving billions of taxpayers' money to failed banks, but we're here to make sure they also put money on the table to tackle climate change," Thomas Henningsen, Greenpeace International climate campaigner said.

"If the planet were a bank they would bail it out."

Poor nations blame rich countries for causing climate change and say they do not do enough to help the poor adapt by means such as creating crops that are resistant to drought or floods and helping build barriers to counter rising sea levels.

Greenpeace wants European governments to contribute 35 billion euros ($44.41 billion) a year to the climate fund for poor nations.

Europe and the United States are seen as the main potential sources of finance, and the EU is now debating the size and source of its share.

Industry should be the main source of money for a climate fund to coax the world's poorest nations into a global deal to tackle climate change in December, a draft report for the European finance ministers meeting said.

(Reporting by Yves Herman; writing by Ingrid Melander)

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