Tens of thousands stage world's largest climate march in Copenhagen

Britons deported and hundreds held as preventative measure after bottles thrown.

A A A

Tens of thousands of climate activists marched in Copenhagen yesterday as part of a worldwide "Day of Action" to urge negotiators at UN talks to agree a strong treaty to fight global warming.

The rally was mostly held in a carnival atmosphere, but riot police detained about 900 activists at the rear of the march after bottles were thrown and a window at the Danish foreign ministry was smashed. The activists were forced to sit down on the street, with hands tied behind their backs.

The number of people on the march was estimated at 25,000 by police and up to 100,000 by organisers. Banners read, "There is no planet B", and "Change the politics, not the climate". Some activists dressed as polar bears and penguins with signs reading: "Save the Humans!" Some held a giant inflatable snowman under threat of melting from warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

A Copenhagen police spokeswoman later confirmed that two Britons were deported for vandalism and spitting on a police officer during the protests. Police blamed the trouble on militant activist groups, and claimed the troublemakers included groups responsible for provoking violence during a Nato summit in the French city of Strasbourg last April.

The arrests came after the march from the city to the Bella Centre, where the UN Climate Change Conference is being held.

Taking part in the world's largest ever climate-change march, which was named The Flood, and organised by Friends of the Earth, were the supermodel turned activist Helena Christensen, Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, and British actress Helen Baxendale. Christensen said: "They will be very bad politicians if they do not hear us by now."

Protesters were demanding that negotiators strike a deal to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming. In the Global Day of Action, campaigners also staged events abroad, including a four-minute "flashdance" outside the Houses of Parliament, with volunteers across London collecting messages from citizens to give to MPs.

The Flood coincided with the arrival of environment ministers in Copenhagen yesterday for informal talks before world leaders join the summit later this week.

While government officials try to find some sort of compromise, health experts will warn this week of the potentially dire consequences of failure. The lives of hundreds of millions worldwide are being put at risk by climate change, with impacts escalating into the foreseeable future, warns a new report by the World Health Organisation being presented to delegates at the climate talks on Thursday.

Progress against diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue fever could be reversed, says the Protecting Health from Climate Change report, which predicts that the population at risk of malaria in Africa could rise by 170 million by 2030, and the global population at risk of dengue by an extra two billion by the 2080s. "Climate change threatens the very fabric of global health," said Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, lead author of the report. He added: "We have a choice between a world that is more dangerous, worse for health and more degraded and unfair, and one that is more sustainable, equitable and beneficial for health."

The warning comes as climate experts stress that countries will need to go beyond the deals already on the table just to have a reasonable chance of containing warming at below C.

Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said: "A deal that puts us on the path to having a good chance of avoiding warming of C, is possible – but ... we need to capture the high end of those proposals and more in Copenhagen, and then ratchet up commitments."

An alternative summit in Copenhagen claims to have the answer. A proposal from Klimaforum09 – representing 70 organisations from 92 countries – calling for a "system change" to a carbon-free economy by 2040 will be presented to government delegations on Tuesday. It rejects "false solutions" such as nuclear energy and argues for the "safe, clean, renewable and sustainable use of natural resources".

One of those backing the declaration, the Indian environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva, said: "Indigenous people and the indigenous world views will definitely need to be brought into the centre of discussion in search of solutions to climate change."

However, a poll this weekend shows dwindling support for environmental issues. A survey by YouGov for the Labour-leaning Left Foot Forward website will make difficult reading for political leaders trying to take voters with them on climate change.

Just 24 per cent believe global warming is an "urgent issue" needing "immediate and radical steps", compared with 38 per cent in a previous YouGov poll in November 2006. And 18 per cent agree that "there is not yet enough clear evidence of global warming and therefore there is no need currently to consider any major steps to change the way we live" – double the 9 per cent in the 2006 poll.

On the agenda

Today

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hosts a service in Copenhagen Cathedral where he is expected to make a plea for action. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is due to attend.

Tomorrow

Final week of negotiations begins. Environment ministers will continue arriving to push negotiators towards an agreement that world leaders will be able to sign later in the week. Douglas Alexander, the International Development secretary, will take part in talks with his counterparts.

Tuesday

The Prince of Wales addresses the summit in an attempt to get support for measures to reduce deforestation. He has no formal role in the negotiations but plans to lobby business leaders privately.

Wednesday

Government ministers arrive as pressure builds over the deadlock between rich and poor countries as to who will pay for going "low carbon", and how to share the burden of cuts on greenhouse gas emissions.

Thursday

Countries will issue a flurry of statements confirming where they stand. Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, hosts a lunch, with a gala dinner hosted by the Queen of Denmark in the evening.

Friday

With Barack Obama in attendance, the pressure is on for an agreement on the final day. If all goes according to plan, a political compromise will be announced, with details to follow. Alas, negotiators could be locked in talks into the weekend.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor