Protests as climate talks stall
Police and protesters clash as Copenhagen climate talks enter crucial final phase.
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2009 00:29 GMT

Protesters said they were trying to break into the UN conference to hold a 'people's assembly' [AFP]

Danish police have clashed with protesters attempting to storm barricades around a UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark's capital.

Officers used pepper spray and batons to contain hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Bella Centre on Wednesday, where talks between 193 nations over global warming are taking place.

Demonstrators are hoping to break into and take over the summit to turn it into a "people's assembly" with the aim of giving voice to ordinary people affected by climate change.

Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Copenhagen, said there had veen "ugly, angry scenes in confrontation with the police".

'Wielding batons'

"Several hundred people are now corralled by a very stiff Danish police presence - riot police in full gear wielding batons," he said.

"A little while ago there were a few critical moments as they tried to breach that barricade. But since then the crowd has been compressed. It's smaller now in number and it is encircled by the police."

in depth

Police said some 230 protesters had been detained during Wednesday's action. There were no reports of injuries.

But Climate Justice Action, which organised the march, said demonstrators were determined to get past the barricade.

"We will get past the police cordon so that we can hold a popular assembly and discuss with delegates from the summit ... to get a climate solution," Peter Nielsen, the group's spokesman, said on Danish TV2 news.

"The police have tried to get in our way all week now. This is a question of resolving a global problem, and we will not hold people back," he said.

Security in the Danish capital has been beefed up to try and stop activists from accessing the Bella Centre, where representatives from 193 countries are negotiating a new global warming deal.

Summit deadlock

World leaders have begun arriving at the talks as they enter their final stretch.

"I think there was a hope that somehow through the discussions both sides would come together - that clearly hasn't happened"

Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera correspondent

Negotiations so far have been hampered by divisions between rich and poor nations over cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and financing for developing nations.

Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent inside the summit, said talks have entered a crucial point, with hope resting on political heavyweights breaking the deadlock.

"Everyone knew there were differences between the rich developed nations and the poor developing nations before this conference even got underway.

"I think there was a hope that somehow through the discussions both sides would come together - that clearly hasn't happened," he said.

"Now the political heavyweights are getting involved trying to make sure that these talks stay on track."

He said Wednesday's replacement of Connie Hedegaard, the Danish president of the summit, with Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the country's prime minister, was a sign that stronger action was needed.

Hedegaard told Wednesday's meeting: "With so many heads of state and government having arrived it's appropriate that the prime minister of Denmark presides".

Hedegaard, who will continue to participate in negotiations, said the move was procedural.

Barack Obama, the US president, and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, are expected to arrive in the last few days of talks.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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