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Litter collected, trees planted for global climate campaign

by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Oct 10, 2010
Environmental campaigners planted trees, collected rubbish and rallied against pollution on Sunday for what organisers aimed to make the world's biggest day of climate-change activism.

The 10/10/10 event known as the "Global Work Party" kicked off in Australia and New Zealand before spinning its way across the globe via more than 7,000 community events in 188 countries.

"The only countries that aren't taking part, we think, are Equatorial Guinea, San Marino, North Korea, so it's clearly the most widespread day of environmental action," co-founder of the campaign Bill McKibben said.

"And as far as we can tell, the most widespread day of civic engagement on any issue ever in the planet's history."

The event comes as long-running United Nations efforts to broker a global deal to tackle global warming have stalled, and McKibben said while organisers had feared that people would be disillusioned by this, the opposite was true.

"People are discouraged but they are taking out their frustrations in action," he told AFP by telephone from Washington.

"They have decided that we are going to have to show our leaders what leadership looks like."

In Berlin, some 30 people gathered at the Brandenberg Gate, a well-known city monument, and pulled a symbolic giant plug from a mock power station and connected it to a solar panel and a wind turbine.

In Beijing, hundreds of volunteers walked through the city collecting trash as a "symbol of how much waste is in the public sphere", said Christian Teriete of the Global Campaign for Climate Action.

More than 30,000 students from some 200 Chinese universities launched a nationwide programme calling for climate action through practical measures, such as removing rubbish from local areas.

"This was the biggest show of youth environmental action in China's history," media spokeswoman Joanna Wong said.

"It is about China's youth showing the world they want to take responsibility for our country's green future."

In the Philippines, thousands of people in the capital Manila joined a run to raise awareness about the Pasig River -- a major waterway that is heavily polluted.

In the Kenyan capital Nairobi between 150 and 200 people demonstrated at a market in a poor area of the city where they picked up litter and planted trees.

"This event is about creating awareness about climate change," Winnie Asiti Khaemba, East and West Africa coordinator, told AFP.

"We are trying to get the international guys, the local guys, the politicians, the people who make policy at the national level, at the regional level and the international level to see that this is a serious problem."

In Rome, organisers planned to unfurl a giant banner in gardens of the Villa Borghese proclaiming "No CO2, no traffic smog, no F1 in Rome" and foreign students were to clean the streets in the neighbourhood of their university.

In Lisbon, local environmental group Quercus organised a gathering of cyclists to form the number 350 along the Tagus river and in southern Portugal campaigners were to plant 350 oak trees on the site of a former illegal dump.

The campaign is named for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists say is the safe limit for humanity and it aims to spearhead international actions to fight climate change.

In Stockholm, a few dozen participants from different ecological movements gathered at midday in the Swedish capital's main square under a banner that read "There is no planet B."

Copenhagen hosted various small events, such as a "climate kitchen," a clothing exchange, an event to promote cycling and an evening gathering at a cafe.

In Europe, which has often led international pressure for tougher pollution limits, participation in the movement was uneven with events scarce in some big cities such as Paris and London.


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