Climate talks pit rich nations against poor

COPENHAGEN — Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the chilly Danish capital and nearly 1,000 were detained Saturday in a mass rally to demand an ambitious global climate pact, just as talks hit a snag over rich nations' demands on China and other emerging economies.

The mostly peaceful demonstrations in Copenhagen provided the centerpiece of a day of global climate activism stretching from Europe to Asia. Police assigned extra officers to watch protesters marching toward the suburban conference center to demand that leaders act now to fight climate change.

Police estimated their numbers at 40,000, while organizers said as many as 100,000 had joined the march from downtown Copenhagen. It ended with protesters holding up candles and torches as they swarmed outside the Bella Center, host of the 192-nation U.N. climate conference.

Police said they rounded up 968 people in a preventive action against a group of youth activists at the tail end of the demonstration. Officers in riot gear moved in when some of the activists, masking their faces, threw cobblestones through the windows of the former stock exchange and Foreign Ministry buildings.

Inside the Bella Center, the European Union, Japan and Australia joined the U.S. in criticizing a draft climate change pact that says major developing nations must rein in greenhouse gases, but only if they have outside financing. Rich nations want to require developing nations to limit emissions, with or without financial help.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, representing the 27-nation EU, said that "there has been a growing understanding that there must be commitments to actions by emerging economies as well."

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that rich nations are trying to re-negotiate the deal they reached two years ago on the island of Bali, calling on developing nations to limit emissions with financial help.

"It's going to blow up in their faces," he said. "The rich countries are trying to move the goal posts. And developing countries are not going to agree to that, no matter how loudly the rich countries demand it."