Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Saturday, 6 December 2008

Climate change campaigners rally

Protester
The protesters want the government to commit to renewable energy

Thousands of protesters have joined a mass rally in London to call on the government to combat climate change.

The environmental campaigners marched from Grosvenor Square to Westminster as part of a global day of action.

It coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, currently taking place in Poznan, Poland.

Protesters called for controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow to be scrapped and an end to expansion plans for coal-burning power.

The Campaign for Climate Change said the economic slump was not an excuse to abandon environmental concerns.

'No agro-fuels'

Kate Tansley, spokeswoman for march organisers Campaign for Climate Change, said the protest highlighted four main issues.

"There are four 'no' issues and one 'yes' one," she said.

"These are no to a third runway at Heathrow and the general expansion of aviation, no to coal, and no to agro-fuels."

However she said the campaigners did want the government to invest in renewable energy.

Organisers said 10,000 people took part in the event. Police estimated 5,000 people were involved.

Many of those present represented different environmental organisations and charities from across the country.

'More action'

Student Jon Roberts, 26, said the turnout showed the government that people "cared about energy issues in the country" and were "aware of the impact" these had on the rest of the world.

"I really hope the government takes more action on energy. There may be bills and proposals to combat climate change but they need to actually do something to enforce them.

"It's fantastic that they actually got the climate change bill put through, but it's really important that they actually act on it," he said.

Protesters in masks in London
The protesters said the UK's actions on climate change affected the world

Phil Thornhill from the Campaign against Climate Change said it was time for the government to listen.

He said: "Changes need to be made urgently before a lot of people suffer, especially the most poor and vulnerable countries.

"They are already suffering because of the lifestyles of people in the richer countries, but we will all end up suffering eventually.

"This is a global disaster waiting to happen. The scale of what will happen unless something is done is unimaginable.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Green MEP Caroline Lucas addressed the crowds at the end of the march in Parliament square.

Before the march, Mr Clegg told the BBC that "radical decisions" on the environment were required of the government.

"After all, we are taking very radical decisions about what we are doing with our banking system so I don't see why we shouldn't also be taking very radical decisions about how we produce energy, how we use it, how we organise public transport, how we insulate our homes."

A spokeswoman for the Met Police said there had been no arrests during the protest and the event had passed "peacefully".



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