Copenhagen police battle climate talks protesters

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Police have forced back hundreds of protesters who tried to break through a perimeter fence at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Activists have been angered by lack of progress on a new climate deal and also by restrictions on access to the talks. Inside the conference, today's ?high-level? session was delayed when several developing countries protested about procedural issues. The World's environment editor Peter Thomson reports from the Copenhagen summit.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is the World. It was a raucous day at the global climate summit in Copenhagen. Danish police fired pepper spray at protesters outside the conference venue. Meanwhile disputes inside left major issues unresolved. The president of the European Commission said he was disappointed with the lack of progress toward a climate treaty and time is running out. The meeting ends in two days. The World's Peter Thomson is at the conference and has this report.

PETER THOMSON: The climate of the climate talks here in Copenhagen has been growing more acrimonious. Delegates of poor nations staged a sort of work stoppage earlier in the week. Rifts have been deepening between key players, including the US and China. Meetings and events are being cancelled without explanation. And then there are the protesters. Many of them have been squeezed out of the meeting site as the UN tightens security with the arrival of scores of government ministers and heads of state. In the snow outside the conference center this morning, a small group of observer delegates who say they've been barred from the conference site burned their credentials in protest. Seno Tsuhah was among them. She came here to represent thousands of farmers in India.

SENO TSUHAH: We are burning our badges because we are angry, to show our anger, that we want to tell the world that there should be no legitimacy without communities' voices.

THOMSON: The mood was no less angry inside. Just beyond the first security gates, delegates from Friends of the Earth International sat on the floor, saying they'd been denied access to the meeting hall itself. Nnimmo Bassey, who came here from Nigeria, is Friends of the Earth's chair.

NNIMMO BASSEY: We all have badges, we have secondary badges and were are all expecting to go in and we've been stopped.

THOMSON: Have they given you a reason?

BASSEY: The reason is security, and I don't know what that means. We believe it's not just, it's not right and it should not be tolerated.

THOMSON: Some of the demonstrations and sloganeering had a sort of pro-forma, pre-packaged feel to them and it's possible that a good number of such supposedly spontaneous outbursts were planned long ago. But the concern that this meeting could lead to no agreement, or to an agreement that falls far short of what's needed, isn't limited to protesters. Many delegates, scientists, and long-time observers of the treaty process fear the summit could end up being a failure. Now, with two days left, many who've been most deeply involved in pushing for dramatic action are dramatically scaling back their expectations, and talking about it as just another meeting. Elliot Diringer is with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

ELLIOT DIRINGER: I think that an outcome here is very likely to be disappointing in some respects to everyone who feels the need to move forward urgently. But it's the process we have. We have to look to it to deliver as much as possible.

THOMSON: It's possible that with President Obama and more than 100 other world leaders arriving in the next 24 hours, things could quickly change. But Diringer and others say that even if Copenhagen doesn't produce an agreement on climate change, they hope it moves the world a little further in that direction. For The World, I'm Peter Thomson, in Copenhagen