Climate protest shuts off Australian parliament

SYDNEY, Nov 23, 2009 (AFP) - Climate change protesters blocked off the entrance to Australia's parliament on Monday, calling for deep cuts to carbon emissions before scores were arrested and moved away, officials said.

As debate about Australia's carbon pollution continued inside the Senate, about 130 demonstrators were arrested after failing to move away from the front doors to Canberra's Parliament House after several hours, police said.

"The demonstrators have converged on the front entrance to parliament house, blocking public access to the building," a police spokesman told AFP. "People were arrested."

Some protesters were carrying signs urging Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to commit to reducing the atmospheric carbon pollution blamed for global warming ahead of next month's global conference on climate change in Copenhagen.

One sign held aloft during the orderly protest read "Rudd the world is watching -- make Copenhagen count" and another said "Rudd, walk the talk!"

"Prime Minister Rudd has the capacity to be a world leader," protester Jenny Curtis told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"He has the capacity to influence the US. If he goes to Copenhagen with a 40 percent (carbon emissions reduction) target (by 2020) then he has the capacity to shift things globally."

The protest came as Rudd, who campaigned hard on green policies ahead of his 2007 election, urged parliamentarians of all political persuasions to back the government's carbon emissions trading scheme which will be released Tuesday.

"I appeal to all those on Opposition benches, who are people of goodwill, who wish to see the passage of climate change legislation, to look beyond our normal partisan divide and to join with the government and see the passage of this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for the future," he said.

Source: AFP

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