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03 December 2011

COP 17: Thousands march in Durban

Thousands of people march through the streets of Durban to highlight climate change, as the COP 17 conference takes place in the city. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

Durban - A march planned as a side event of the COP 17 climate talks got under way in Durban on Saturday morning.

Just before noon, thousands of people gathered at Dr Pixley Kaseme Street (former West Street) to demonstrate their views on climate change.

The march progressed to Durban's International Convention Centre, where the conference is taking place. The marchers will be addressed by a range of speakers including Congress of SA Trade Unions General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

These speeches would then be collectively handed over to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretary Christiana Figueres.

Four police Nyalas and a big water canon preceded the march, while police in full body armour lined the route and a police spotter plane and helicopter were visible overhead.

The marchers - from civil society, organised labour, faith-based organisations, as well as artists and musicians - noisily but peacefully began their trek.

They were bemused by police at the head of the procession who consulted a map moments before the march began.

Various groups including Green Peace and Canadians for Climate Justice waved signs and banners.

Despite the carnival atmosphere, the sentiments displayed on placards were uncompromising: "Act now against Cop killers like Eskom," and "No to nuclear energy".

- SAPA/News24