Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Copenhagen today as part of demonstrations around the world to demand a fair and binding new global deal to tackle climate change.
The protests to mark the halfway point of crunch UN climate talks in the Danish capital include a mass rally outside the country’s parliament and a march to the conference centre where negotiations on a new global warming deal are taking place.
To mark The Global Day of Action on climate change, campaigners were also staging events around the world, including a four-minute “flashdance” with lights performed outside the Houses of Parliament, with volunteers across London collecting messages from citizens to deliver to MPs.
In Scotland, a candlelit rally is being held at the same site in Edinburgh where a five-year vigil helped establish the Scottish parliament, in a bid to make sure Scottish leaders help deliver a “real deal” in Copenhagen.
The events follow a series of protests across the UK last weekend to demand world leaders who head to the UN climate summit next week secure a strong and fair deal to cut emissions and provide funding for poor countries in the fight against global warming.
Actress Helen Baxendale is among the celebrities joining the events in the Danish capital today, along with model Helena Christensen and former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson.
Baxendale said thousands of people from all over the world were trying to encourage their leaders to take “firm and fair action”.
She told Sky News it was “inspiring” and said: “It’s fantastic to join with so many other people from all over the world.
“I think it’s also important that people come and make their voices heard as well.
“I think, in the end, that’s what will make real, positive change.”
Environment ministers started arriving in the Danish capital today for informal talks before world leaders join the summit late next week.
Initial reaction to the negotiating text submitted yesterday underscored the split between the US-led wealthy countries and countries still struggling to overcome poverty and catch up with the modern world.
The tightly focused document was meant to lay out the main themes for environment ministers to wrestle with as they prepare for a summit of about 110 heads of state and government at the end of next week.
Yesterday around 40 protesters were arrested in Copenhagen outside a business leaders’ event to discuss climate change.
Also arriving in Denmark in time for the protests are 28 cyclists who have ridden from Stansted in the UK, two of them – a married couple from Somerset - on a tandem, to raise funds for Christian Aid.
Phil Thornhill, from the Campaign against Climate Change in the UK, said on behalf of the Global Climate Campaign: “Every year of inaction sees us slide closer to the point where a tragedy of unprecedented scale becomes irreversible.
“As politicians fail to find the collective will to overcome inertia, international rivalries, and the all-pervasive power of vested interests, ordinary people all around the world will be demanding decisive action now, not later when the fate of billions could be already have been sealed and the catastrophe will have become unstoppable.”