Several thousand protesters have marched through the South African city of Durban to voice their concerns on climate change, as UN climate talks enter their second week.
There is anger that poorer countries might not get a fair deal as the summit seeks to update the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.
“Climatic justice… not climatic apartheid”, was one of the slogans shouted by a protester in a reference to South Africa’s past.
“It’s all about our future. It’s all about calling for a sustainable future. We have got to act and we have actually got to act urgently so that we put this planet back onto a sustainable path. At the moment we’re destroying our very life-support systems,” said Bishop Geoff Davies of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute.
There is also concern that countries may use the financial crisis as an excuse to put off action, but the UN’s climate chief is confident a deal can be done.
“There is a realisation that the Kyoto Protocol is definitely critical and that the second commitment period is critical to the success of Durban, but that it is not sufficient,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention.
“We expect an agreement around what the contours of a second commitment period can be, together with the initiation of a process towards a broader mitigation framework,” she said.
The EU has said it will sign up to renewed targets – if all big emitters agree legally binding cuts.
Beijing has hinted it might, but as things stand the world’s big three emitters of China, India and the US are not bound by Kyoto and other prominent countries such as Russia, Japan and Canada have withdrawn from negotiations.