Thousands in Lima march for the planet

Thousands participate in the People’s Climate March on the sidelines of the UN COP20 and CMP10 climate change conferences being held in Lima on Dec 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Thousands participate in the People’s Climate March on the sidelines of the UN COP20 and CMP10 climate change conferences being held in Lima on Dec 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

LIMA (AFP) - Thousands of people marched in central Lima against Earth's exploitation Wednesday, urging ministers haggling over a world climate deal to ensure a global switch to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.

Students, environmentalists, workers, women's defenders, anti-poverty activists and indigenous groups joined the "People's Climate March" in the Peruvian capital, chanting "Water yes, gold no! The water is ours!"

The colourful line of festive protesters snaked its way from El Campo de Marte park in the city centre to Plaza San Martin, accompanied by rhythmic drumming and brass bands.

Police estimated the crowd at some 1,800 people, but AFP witnessed many times that.

A carnival-like atmosphere characterised the 2km walk in the hot sun, with larger-than-life puppets and stilt-walkers towering over the crowds, many in traditional Peruvian dress.

They waved placards demanding "100 per cent clean energy", and banners declaring "life is worth more than gold", as a large police contingent looked on.

Ronald Guillen, from the Admicco organisation defending the interests of Peruvian coastal communities, told AFP this was an issue of survival.

"A change in weather can be bad for all the things that we build on the coast," he said mid-rally.

"It could be dangerous for the people." Hip hop artist Brian Palacios, 20, the bottom half of his face covered by a scarf, said he was at the rally "because we have to stop the pollution."

"There have been so many conferences before this one, and global warming is still a problem," he said of the talks under way elsewhere in the city.

"We have to be organised. We have to think of the community, not just our own careers, of money. We have to think also of our sons, our sisters, our brothers."

The rally follows the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of people in dozens of cities on the eve of the Sept 23 world leaders' summit in New York that revived climate change as a political priority.

'IT'S OUR ONLY HOUSE'

"We have to take care of our planet," Guillen added.

"It is the big house of all of us, and it is the only house that we have."

Environment ministers, meanwhile, engaged in the second of a four-day meeting designed to apply political heft to the deeply divided negotiations.

The Dec 1-12 Lima talks aim to clear the way to a pact at a December 2015 gathering to be held in Paris seeking to slashing soaring, Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told negotiators on Tuesday there was still time to limit global warming to an internationally-agreed upon ceiling of less than 2 deg C, he warned that "the window of opportunity is fast narrowing."