| Two girls at a protest near the Gleneagles hotel in Gleneagles, Scotland. (AFP)
Gleneagles (Scotland), July 6 (Reuters): Protesters clashed today with police protecting the world’s most powerful leaders who arrived for a Group of Eight summit still divided over tackling climate change and helping Africa.
Hooded activists smashed car windows and fought with riot police in the nearby town of Stirling while others set up impromptu barricades on the roads around the heavily guarded complex hosting the summit of G8 leaders.
Police made 60 arrests as anti-capitalist, anarchist and environmentalist groups sought to capture the protest limelight that has until now been occupied by thousands of campaigners pressing for an end to poverty in Africa.
G8 leaders were flown by helicopter to the luxury Gleneagles hotel complex over the heads of hundreds of demonstrators who rallied against a steel fence protected by mounted police.
Inside, celebrity anti-poverty campaigners pressed British Prime Minister Tony Blair to overcome opposition from other leaders to doubling aid to Africa to $50 billion a year, opening world markets to African goods and cancelling debt. “Not to get poverty stopped would be a terrible, terrible human failure,” said Bob Geldof, rock star and prime mover behind the “Live 8” concerts that ringed the globe on Saturday.
Standing beside Blair and Bono, lead singer of U2, Geldof said there was still time to fight for a better deal and British sources said talks were continuing on aid and trade issues.
Blair already has a debt relief deal in his pocket and should secure some promises on extra aid, though not in amounts aid agencies believe are needed to raise Africa from poverty.
He will not get the ambitious deal he wanted on financing long-term development for Africa and faces opposition from the US on his other goal ' a deal to combat the harmful emissions that most scientists say are warming the earth.
President George W. Bush said he would propose a worldwide effort to invest in alternatives to oil and gas as Washington's answer to the challenge of climate change.
“Listen, the US, for national security reasons and economic security, needs to diversify away from fossil fuels. And so we’ve put out a strategy to do just that. I can’t wait to share it with our G8 friends,” the President said.
Bush, in a new emphasis in US policy, acknowledged more loudly than before humans were to blame for climate change and said it was in Washington’s interests to respond. “I recognise the surface of the Earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem,” he said.
Critics deride as insufficient the US reliance on technological fixes to global warming rather than the emissions caps agreed by other G8 countries under the Kyoto protocol.
Negotiators said the climate change communique remains unfinished, with France demanding mention of the Kyoto treaty, which all G8 countries except the US have signed.
A“Live 8” rock concert in the Scottish capital Edinburgh later on Wednesday was intended to add to pressure on the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Italy, Canada and the US.