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Thousands march in London for climate action

People demanding action at the upcoming global summit on climate change gather Saturday in London, England. Police estimated the crowd at 20,000; organizers figured 40,000.Johnny Green / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Thousands of people calling for a deal on climate change at next week's United Nations conference in Copenhagen marched through central London on Saturday, encircling the Houses of Parliament in a human wave of blue-clad demonstrators.

London's Metropolitan Police said about 20,000 people joined the Stop Climate Chaos march, which began at Grosvenor Square and wound its way to the Parliament building on the River Thames. Organizers put the turnout at 40,000.

"We wanted to make a positive statement," said retired teacher Pip Cartwright, 72, from Witney southern England. "It's for the future. It's not my generation that's going to have the problem to solve."

The coalition — which includes groups such as Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the WWF — called the protest "The Wave," and organizers asked marchers to dress in blue. The march ended with a mass "wave" around Parliament. Thousands more people attended climate protests in Glasgow and Belfast, as well as in European cities including Brussels, Paris and Dublin.

"The U.K. government must fight for a comprehensive, fair and binding deal at Copenhagen — that is our demand today and we expect it to be fulfilled," Oxfam GB chief executive Barbara Stocking said in a statement. "They must return home with a strong, effective climate deal both for our own sakes in the U.K. and for the millions of poor people already suffering from the effects of climate change around the world."

E-mails controversy ahead of summit
Also on Saturday, Britain's Met Office said it would publish some of the data it uses to analyze climate change, after thousands of pieces of correspondence between some of the world's leading climate scientists were stolen from the University of East Anglia and leaked to the Internet. Skeptics of man-made global warming say the mails prove that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence about climate change.

On Friday, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, said the issue raised by the e-mails was serious and would be looked at in detail.

Most climate scientists say their content has no bearing on the principles of climate change itself, but the leak — just before the Copenhagen summit — has been politically explosive,

Prime Minister Gordon Brown told The Guardian newspaper that the world must not be distracted by "behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-Earth climate skeptics."

"We know the science. We know what we must do," Brown said.

Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett said data from 1,000 weather stations around the world, covering 150 years, will be released early next week. The office has written to 188 countries to ask for permission to release more data from a further 4,000 stations.

Archbishop's prayer
Ahead of the march through central London, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offered prayers for negotiators in Copenhagen and urged people not to listen to those who say there's a choice between "looking after human beings and looking after the Earth."

"If we make ourselves a bit less comfortable, if we draw back from a little bit of our space and liberty so that others may have the space and comfort they need for life, thank God," Williams said.

Later, a group of climate activists pitched tents amid the fountains and statues in central London's Trafalgar Square to draw attention to the upcoming summit. Police said they were in contact with the Camp for Climate Action protesters, who planned to stay for about 48 hours.

Activists of the campaign "The Climate Alliance" demonstrate in a slowly with water filling basin and disguised as politicians in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin on December 5, 2009. The activity under the motto "Act now - climate protection now", took place two days ahead of the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. DDP

In Berlin, Germany, activists posing as world leaders sat inside a giant aquarium that was gradually filled with water to highlight the risks of rising sea levels from melting glaciers and ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.

Dressed as U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Hu Jintao and wearing caricature face masks, the activists saw 4,000 liters of water rise to their chins to symbolize the impact of global warming.

"The longer world leaders just talk and do nothing, the higher the water levels will rise," said Juergen Maier, a leader of campaign group Klima-Allianz, which staged scores of other demonstrations around Germany on Saturday.