Environmental activists demonstrate outside the UNFCCC COP17 meeting in Durban. Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS

They are members of civil society groups and trade unions.

Among them are 500 activists from the Million Climate Jobs campaign and the anti-capilatist Democratic Left Front, as well as 400 rural women, who are said to be likely to be among the worst affected by climate change.

Many have been arriving by bus in preparation for the Global Day of Action tomorrow, when they will march to the conference venue, Durban’s International Convention Centre, from Curries Fountain, demanding “climate justice”.

The university campus is abuzz with workshops, seminars and other meetings.

Activists are exchanging ideas and developing strategies to confront what they call government and business intransigence, and to demand a climate deal with binding targets for cuts in gas emissions to prevent runaway climate change.

Mark Weinberg, of the Alternative Information Development Centre, said: “We believe that climate change is an inherent product of the capitalist system, which treats the planet as an endless source of raw material and as an unlimited dumping ground for pollution and waste.”

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