Climate Protests Block Roads in Europe

BERLIN (AP) -- Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement blocked major roads in Berlin and Amsterdam on Monday at the beginning of what was billed as a wide-ranging series of protests demanding new climate policies.

Around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital's Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column, in a protest that started in the early hours.

Members of Extinction Rebellion have also set up a camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel's office, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government, ahead of what it called an "international rebellion" starting Monday. It says protests are planned in 60 cities worldwide.

In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the city's most popular tourist draws, and set up tents.

The demonstration went ahead despite the city banning activists from gathering on the road. The protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.

Protester Elle van Zeeland told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the group is "staying here until the government meets its obligations."

Founded in Britain last year, the movement, also known as XR, now has chapters in some 50 countries.

Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, criticized its tactics.

"We all share an interest in climate protection, and the Paris climate targets are our standard in this," he told ZDF television. "If you demonstrate against or for that, that is ok, but if you announce dangerous interventions in road traffic or things like this, of course that is just not on."

He dismissed the idea of declaring a "climate emergency," saying that the constitution doesn't provide for such a thing and it doesn't translate into "concrete action."

(KR)