Ministers meet for informal climate talks


COPENHAGEN (AP) — Danish police on Sunday released hundreds of activists who were detained during a climate demonstration as environment ministers met for informal talks aimed at advancing negotiations on a new global warming pact.

Police said only 13 of the 968 people detained during and after the demonstration in Copenhagen remained in custody Sunday. Of those, three — two Danes and a Frenchman — were set to be arraigned in court on preliminary charges of fighting with police.

The conference took a day off Sunday, though more than 40 environment ministers were meeting for informal talks at the Danish Foreign Ministry on greenhouse emissions cuts and financing for poor nations to deal with climate change.

The pledges on emissions cuts so far are short of the minimum proposed in a draft agreement to keep temperatures from rising to a dangerous level.

An estimated 40,000 people joined Saturday’s mostly peaceful march toward the suburban conference center where the 192-nation U.N. climate conference is being held.

Riot police detained activists at the tail end of the demonstration when some of them started vandalizing buildings in downtown Copenhagen. Windows were broken at the former stock exchange and the Foreign Ministry.

A police officer received minor injuries when he was hit by a rock thrown from the group and one protester was injured by fireworks, police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch said.

Critics blasted the Danish law that allows police to make preventative arrests if they believe a demonstration will turn violent and hold suspected troublemakers for up to 12 hours without a court arraignment.

“They have arrested 1,000 people. And they only followed up on 3 of them,” Amnesty spokeswoman Ida Thuesen said. “There are lot of people who haven’t done anything and had no intention of doing anything.”

The majority of peaceful demonstrators chanted and carried banners reading “Demand Climate Justice,” ”The World Wants a Real Deal” and “There is No Planet B,” navigating for miles along city streets and over bridges past officers in riot gear, police dogs and the flashing lights of dozens of police vans.

More demonstrations were planned on Sunday.

At the talks, the European Union, Japan and Australia joined the U.S. Saturday in criticizing the draft global warming 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.

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said his country — the world’s No. 5 greenhouse gas polluter — will not offer more than its current pledge to slow its growth rate of emissions. It has offered to cut greenhouse gases measured against production by 20 to 25 percent by 2020.

China has made voluntary commitments to rein in its carbon emissions but doesn’t want to be bound by international law to do so.