NAIROBI, Kenya – Thousands of demonstrators marched Saturday in Kenya’s capital to protest what they called a failure by industrialized nations to curb global warming.
About 2,500 Kenyans and foreigners marching through the streets of Nairobi waved placards, including some depicting President Bush with the slogan “wanted for crimes against the planet.”
Many blamed America for holding up progress after rejecting the 1997 Kyoto agreement to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The march took place halfway through a U.N. conference here addressing climate change. Environmentalists are complaining that negotiators from industrialized nations are moving too slowly to set new controls on global-warming gases after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Saturday’s march was the first rally in Africa against climate change, according to British charity Practical Action, which helped organize the march.
“Africa suffers more than any other continent from climate change,” said Grace Akumu, head of the local activist group Climate Network Africa. “We hope after the American elections that the U.S. will now take climate change seriously.”
The annual meeting of some 180 member nations partaking in the 1992 U.N. climate treaty is dealing with how to implement the treaty’s Kyoto Protocol, which obliges 35 industrial nations to reduce their emissions of so-called greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject the 1997 treaty annex. Bush says it would harm the U.S. economy and that it should have required emissions cutbacks in poorer nations as well.
Scientists say the atmospheric accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases – byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel-burning sources – is at least partly to blame for a 1 degree rise in global temperatures in the past century.
Continued temperature increases may dangerously disrupt the planet’s climate, they say.