Danish police detained 240 people on Wednesday when protesters stormed barricades around a global climate summit as ministers from around the world failed over a deal to stave off catastrophic global warming, witnesses and a police spokesman said.
Police, some with dogs, used truncheons and pepper spray to keep back the hundreds of protesters who gathered outside Copenhagen's Bella Centre while inside the conference venue fears swelled that procedural battles and textual nit-picking could wreck the much-trumpeted outcome.
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.
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, Reuters said.
Demonstrators tried to penetrate a police cordon around the conference centre, and a few did break through an outer ring of security momentarily but were chased down by police, a Reuters witness said.
One climbed onto a police van but an officer climbed up after him, and hit him twice with a baton, until he fell down.
The demonstrators had set out from Taarnby, a suburb of Copenhagen a few kilometres (miles) from the Bella Centre conference facility where 193 governments were meeting. Light snow flurries fell as they started their march.
Police later held some protesters at bay across a footbridge from the conference centre, where one man shouted at police: "We told you we would be peaceful, and you reacted with violence. Shame on you." Climate Justice Action, which organised the march, said a few thousand people took part. Police declined to estimate the number of protesters.
The conference's U.N. organisers restricted non-governmental organisations' access to the Bella Centre for security reasons on Wednesday, drawing sharp criticism from many NGOs.
The Danish government said it would arrange an alternative conference venue in Copenhagen for observer NGO members that would not be able to enter the Bella Centre on Thursday and Friday when 119 heads of state and government join the talks.
Failure on climate deal
The Copenhagen talks so far have been marked by sharp disagreements between China and the United States, and between rich and poor nations.
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.
Inside the cavernous convention hall, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, among the first leaders to address the assembly, echoed the protesters' sentiments: "If the climate was a bank, a capitalist bank, they would have saved it."
Earlier, behind closed doors, negotiators dealing with core issues debated until just before dawn without setting new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries' efforts to cope with coming climate change, key elements of any deal.
"I regret to report we have been unable to reach agreement," John Ashe of Antigua, chairman of one negotiating group, told the conference.
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.
Further negotiations would unfold in 2010 for agreeing on details.
AgenciesLast Mod: 17 Aralık 2009, 09:10