Protesters skied, carried mock coffins and wore windmills on their heads at demonstrations staged around the world on Saturday that were designed to draw attention to climate change.


Hundreds of environmental activists protest Canada's stand at the climate change talks currently being held in Bali during a rally in Montreal Saturday. ((Peter McCabe/Canadian Press))

Rallies were held in more than 50 cities worldwide, including Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifaxand Moncton. Environmental organizations around the worldstaged theGlobal Day of Action to coincide with the two-week UN Climate Change Conference, which runs until Friday in Bali, Indonesia.

"Climate change is happening, it's a real issue," said Danielle Bédard, who helped organize the event in Windsor, Ont. "Things have to happen and it really needs to be on our political agenda."

At the Toronto event, an organizer dialed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and held up the cellphone to the crowd, which shouted demands for Harper to commit to Canada's Kyoto obligations.

Protesters in other cities staged stunts too.

In Helsinki, Finland, demonstrators cross-country skied across the barren, snowless asphalt, demanding that policymakers give them their snow back, while in Edmonton, despite temperatures that sunk to about -20 C, protesters carried a mock coffin to symbolize the earth.

In Athens, Greece, fire-eating protesters blew clouds of flames into the air, and in Manila, in the Philippines, they wore miniature windmills on their hats.

"We are trying to send a message that we are going to have to use renewable energy sometime, because the environment, we need to preserve it," protester Samantha Gonzales said in Manila. "We have to act now."

U.S. won't sign on to caps

Meanwhile, the U.S took a hard stance at the Bali climate change talks on Saturday. Chief U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson said his country will not commit to any mandatory emissions caps that might be laid out in a new international climate change treaty.

Watson said the U.S. will come up with its own plan to cut greenhouse gases by mid-2008.

The 190 nationsmeeting in Bali are negotiating the framework for a new treaty that will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

The United States never signed on to Kyoto, which was ratified by 141 countries in 2005.Kyotosets different emissions targets for different countries, with an overall goal of reducingemissions by about five per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.

Canada, which signed the agreement in 1998 under a Liberal government, is supposed to reduce its emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels. However, Canada is not on track to meet its goal by 2012.

The current Conservative government pledged in April to reduce Canada's overall emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020, meaning Canada will miss its targets by years.

With files from the Associated Press