By Erik Kirschbaum BERLIN (Reuters) - German climate activists posing as international leaders sat inside a giant aquarium which was filled with water on Saturday in a protest held in Berlin against the world’s rising sea levels.
Around 20,000 people marched in London on Saturday to protest against climate change ahead of a two week-long U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen starting on Monday. A Greenpeace demonstration in Paris drew 1,500 people.
“We want the most ambitious deal we can get at the climate change talks,” Britain’s Energy Secretary Ed Miliband told BBC television from the march.
The German activists — dressed as U.S. President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Hu Jintao and wearing caricature face masks — saw 4,000 liters of water rise to their chins to symbolize the impact of global warming.
The protest by the Klima-Allianz activists in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was designed to draw attention to a lack of progress in fighting climate change.
“The longer world leaders just talk and do nothing, the higher the water levels will rise,” said Juergen Maier, a leader of Klima-Allianz that staged scores of other demonstrations around Germany on Saturday.
“They need to act now to slow climate change,” he said. “The world needs action, not just more empty talk. Merkel acts like she’s doing so much. But Germany still builds coal-burning power plants and has no speed limit. Germany could do much more.”
A group of 26 top climate researchers warned last month that global warming is happening faster than expected and at worst could raise sea levels by up to 2 meters (6-1/2 feet) by 2100.
The German activists talked and gestured while a crowd watched the water rise. A fourth activist posing as Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade sat on a stool trying to get aid.
“Climate change is crap,” said the drenched activist playing Merkel, shivering as she climbed from the aquarium. “Merkel isn’t doing anything and neither is Obama,” said Max, an activist posing as Hu. “Time is running out.”
Around 1,500 people gathered in central Paris at a rally organized by Greenpeace to draw attention to climate problems ahead of the summit. They were carrying banners saying: “Climate Ultimatum,” and chanting: “Things are hotting up, act now.”
In London, thousands of protesters called for leaders to agree on a deal to protect the environment.
The marchers, many wearing blue clothes and face paint, made their way toward the Houses of Parliament chanting slogans and blowing whistles, bearing placards saying “Climate Justice Now” and “Climate Change: The End Is Nigh.”
The U.N. conference runs from December 7-18 with 190 nations taking part in the biggest climate summit yet.
A train dubbed the “Climate Express” bound for Copenhagen traveled from Brussels through Germany on Saturday carrying 450 delegates, climate researchers, journalists and environmental activists. The 14-hour journey is supposed to symbolize efforts to reduce the summit’s carbon footprint.
Additional reporting by Lucien Liebert in Paris and Tim Castle in London