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U.K. Urged to Act Against Climate Change

by: Associated Press    5 November 2006

About 20,000 environmental activists protested in central London Saturday, demanding the government take urgent action against climate change.

Some demonstrators slowly rode bicycles on prominent streets to hinder traffic in the day of protests.

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, which organized the demonstrations, said the protests were timed to coincide with the second meeting of Kyoto Protocol countries who have agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions and stave off global warming. The meeting will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 6-17.

Under the 1997 Kyoto accord, 35 industrialized nations have committed to reducing emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The U.S., the world's biggest polluter, rejects the agreement.

At a rally in London's Trafalgar Square, about 4,000 activists demanded the British government negotiate an international agreement to stop global warming, and introduce a new Climate Change Bill to cut the country's carbon dioxide emissions.

They also want Britain to help developing countries fight climate change.

"There is a danger threshold. If we breach it, it could be catastrophic," said Ashok Sinha, director of the coalition made up of environmental and development organizations. "The governments have enough evidence themselves that something needs to be done."

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Blair called for decisive action on carbon emissions after a government-commissioned report warned global warming will cause a drastic economic calamity if it is not addressed urgently.

Sir Nicholas Stern, a senior government economist, estimated the effects of climate change could eventually cost the equivalent of between 5 percent and 20 percent of global gross domestic product each year.