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Katowice COP24 Notebook - Protesters raise the alarm on climate

The city centre of Katowice is pictured during the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Talks billed as the most important U.N. conference since the Paris 2015 deal on climate change are nearing the end of a first week in the Polish city of Katowice, the capital of the Silesian mining district.

The aim is to make an end-of-year deadline for agreeing a rule book on how to enforce global action to limit further warming of the planet.

Below is a flavour of the mood around the event, held in a sprawl of temporary passageways and meeting rooms next to the "Spodek", a flying-saucer-shaped sports and concert venue.

SATURDAY

0800 GMT

Negotiations continue to clean up a messy text ahead of a Saturday night deadline to have a document ready for ministers to wrestle over in the second and final week of the conference.

Negotiators say there has been progress, but it's slow and, as ever, finance is a big stumbling block.

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At noon, demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Katowice as well as cities around the world to demand an agreement that will prevent temperatures rising by more than 1.5 C.

The marchers' symbol is an alarm clock, as organisers seek to wake governments up to the urgency of action.

'YELLOW VESTS' A SEPARATE ISSUE

The biggest crowds are expected in Paris, where tensions are high after rioting by "yellow vest" protesters forced President Emmanuel Macron to scrap a planned fuel tax because of violent demonstrations about living costs.

Environmental campaigners in Katowice said the riots about fuel costs were about social justice and should not be confused with the need for a price on carbon to help shift the energy mix away from fossil fuel.

HELD AT THE BORDER

Numbers on the streets at Katowice could have been reduced by around a dozen after Polish border guards refused to let some environmental campaigners enter the country, non-governmental organisations said.

One of those stopped was Nugzar Kokhreidze, a delegate from Georgia.

"I was stopped at the passport control at Katowice International Airport. They said that my name and surname is in the banned list in some system," he said in an email.

Environment organisation 350.org said in an email that those denied entrance had been told they were "a threat to national security, which as you can imagine is ludicrous". 

A spokeswoman for the Polish border guard said 161 people had been forbidden entry to Poland on Friday for many reasons, including a lack of correct documents and being on security lists. She could not immediately say whether there was any connection to the climate talks in Katowice.

Since the beginning of this year, Poland has denied entry to 74,000 people.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis, Anna Koper and Sebastien Malo from the Reuters Foundation; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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