December 13, 2009 / 12:52 PM / in 8 years

Climate progress eludes ministers, protesters held

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Environment ministers

struggled to nudge forward climate talks in Copenhagen on Sunday, and police detained more than 250 protesters on a second day of mass action.

Church leaders handed a petition with half a million signatures to the United Nations and prayed for climate justice, while hundreds of demonstrators marched through the city center for a second day to remind world leaders of the huge public pressure for a successful deal at the Dec 7-18 talks.

“We are telling them: Hey you, you who are sitting there making the decisions, the world is waiting for a real agreement,” South African Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a crowd in the city center.

The day after a huge demonstration flared into violence and prompted the largest mass arrest in Danish history, police shut down a small march they said had not been authorized, detaining almost all who had joined it for disturbing the peace.

More than 90 ministers had met informally, on their day off from official negotiations between 190 nations, to try to break an impasse between rich and poor over who is responsible for emissions cuts, how deep they should be, and who should pay.

There was a positive atmosphere, but the talks apparently achieved little beyond a consensus that time is running out.

“Everyone realizes the urgency of what we are undertaking but we need to move faster,” said British Energy Minister Ed Miliband.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said he had not expected solutions on Sunday. “We have defined to each other where our absolute limits are,” he told reporters.

Countries like China and India say the industrialized world must make bigger cuts in emissions and help poor nations to fund a shift to greener growth and adapt to a warmer world.

Richer countries say the developing world’s carbon emissions are growing so fast it must sign up for curbs in emissions to prevent dangerous levels of warming.

Activists of the "Hit-The-Production" demonstration are stopped by police near the Copenhagen Harbour November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Jens Norgaard Larsen/Scanpix Denmark


The talks will culminate in a summit on Thursday and Friday that President Barack Obama will attend, adding to the pressure on negotiators to reach a deal.

The head of the Asian Development Bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, warned governments that failure to reach a climate deal in Copenhagen could lead to a collapse of the carbon market, which would hit efforts to deal with climate change.

Tutu handed a petition with over half a million signatures, calling for a “fair, effective and binding climate deal,” to Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

Slideshow (5 Images)

De Boer told the crowd he hoped public pressure could persuade leaders to set aside their concerns about the global economic crisis and tackle the urgent threat of climate change.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, called for political courage at a service in Copenhagen’s cathedral, attended by Danish royalty, which was followed by a “bell ringing for the climate” in churches around the world.

“We have not yet been able to embrace the cost of the decisions we know we must make ... but we have an obligation to future generations,” Williams told the congregation.

Police have released all but 13 of nearly 1,000 people detained after a march on Saturday, a police spokesman said.

The demonstration by tens of thousands of people was largely peaceful but violence erupted toward evening when demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to cars.

Some of those detained said they were unfairly held and badly treated by police, and the waves of new arrests angered activists who said they were peacefully exercising their rights.

A Reuters witness saw no violence at the small anti-capitalist “hit production” march.

“They’re just trying to stifle any kind of protest and they are mass arresting any demonstrators. Also today, there was nothing going on and suddenly police started arresting people,” said protester Peter Boulo at Sunday’s “hit production” march.

Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison, additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom, John Acher, David Fogarty and Richard Cowan; editing by Tim Pearce

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