Danish police fired tear gas and made more than 200 arrests Wednesday, as hundreds of protesters tried to push through barricades outside the Bella conference centre, where a critical summit on climate change is underway.
AFP - Danish police battled demonstrators outside the UN climate summit on Wednesday as ministers from around the world wrestled over a deal to stave off catastrophic global warming.
Police with dogs fired teargas and arrested around 230 marchers near the Bella Center, while inside the conference venue fears swelled that procedural battles and textual nit-picking could wreck the much-trumpeted outcome.
Around 1,500 demonstrators tried to march on the closely guarded complex, where 194 nations have been called to forge a strategy for tackling the greatest known threat to mankind in the 21st century.
Some of the world's leaders, arriving ahead of Friday's climax when some 120 chiefs will be in attendance, began to portray the negotiations in a sombre light.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged a deal would be "very difficult," while his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd said there was "no guarantee" of accord.
Spotlight on Copenhagen summit
- Day 12 at Copenhagen: Gruelling negotiations drag into overtime
- Day 11 at Copenhagen: A heads-up as heads of state arrive
- Day 10 at Copenhagen: Hedegaard steps down, tensions mount
- Day 9 at Copenhagen: Climate refugees, the first victims of climate change
- Day 8 at Copenhagen: Africans walk out, talks stall - briefly
- Day 5 at Copenhagen: 'Our climate, not your business'
- Day 4 at Copenhagen: No breakthrough in sight
- Day 3 at Copenhagen: rich vs poor rift widens
- Day 2 at Copenhagen: Lobbyists vie for influence
- Copenhagen: what is at stake?
If all goes well, Friday's summit will conclude with a post-2012 strategy for shrinking climate change from mortal peril to a manageable threat.
It would set down the outlines of an accord on curbing carbon emissions that cause global warming and craft a mechanism to provide billions of dollars for poorer countries in the firing line of climate change.
Further negotiations would unfold in 2010 for agreeing on details.
Scientists warn that many millions of people face going hungry, losing their homes and access to water within the next decade if nothing is done to stem the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
But nine days of talks among lower-level officials and informal negotiations among groups of ministers have failed to produce a breakthrough on any of the key -- and tightly intertwined -- issues.
Tiny Tuvalu, a Pacific archipelago of nine coral atolls which is one of the countries most at risk from rising sea levels, likened the state of negotiations to the Titanic.
"I have the feeling of dread that we are on the Titanic and sinking fast," its chief negotiator Ian Fry told the conference.
"It's time... to launch the lifeboats, it's time to save this process."
Follow the Copenhagen Conference online
Chinese chief negotiator Su Wei complained the process was "not transparent" and warned of "very grave consequences if we do not resolve this issue."
"This is a party-driven process. You can't just put forward some text from the sky."
With the conference moving towards its climax, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen took over as chairman, replacing Connie Hedegaard who will lead informal talks.
"People around the world are actually expecting something from us," said Rasmussen in his first session in the chair, showing frustration at a series of points of order.
European Union environment commissioner Stavros Dimas voiced concern.
"Things are fragile," he told AFP.
"We are entering the last phase of the negotiations and we should stop the games, we should start looking at the political issues, we should focus and accelerate the pace of the negotiations in order to have an agreement as public opinion around the world expects us to do and as our responsibility towards our planet dictates us to do."
Some of the bitterest wrangling has been between the world's two biggest carbon emitters, China and the United States, which declared on Tuesday they would not shift on their emissions pledges, the thorniest problem of all.
US President Barack Obama has offered to cut US carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 over a 2005 benchmark, a figure that aligns with legislation put before the US Congress.
It amounts to a reduction of around four percent compared with the more widely used reference year of 1990. The European Union has pledged to cut its emissions by 20 percent on 1990 levels by 2020.
The 12-day confab on the outskirts of Copenhagen has been mired with organisational problems with the number of people accredited outstripping capacity by around 30,000.
Thousands of activists from non-governmental organisations were forced to leave the venue on Wednesday to accommodate the influx of VIPs, further fuelling anger among those who already feel their voices are not being heard.
Many of those excluded joined the march towards the summit venue.
Date created : 2009-12-16