Global Climate March: Tens of thousands rally around the world against climate change
More than 570,000 people across 175 countries have so far taken part in the rallies, making the 2015 action ahead of the summit the biggest set of global marches in history, according to a campaign director at Avaaz.org, a global advocacy organization.
People "are calling with one voice for global leaders to deliver a 100 percent clean energy future at the Paris climate summit. Despite events being canceled across France, global actions were larger than last year's massive march in New York, breaking records in Bangladesh, Australia, Britain and more," Emma Ruby-Sachs said in a statement emailed to Sputnik news agency.
In addition to the high turnout, almost 1.8 million people signed petitions demanding immediate climate action, to be delivered by faith groups to the UN summit’s organizers.
One of the first marches to take place on Sunday was in the Australian city of Sydney, which saw a massive turnout. Around 45,000 people took to the streets. The rally started in the central business district and headed towards the Opera House.
Among those taking part was Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who tweeted that the rally had been the largest climate march ever to have taken place in the city.
Protesters could be seen holding banners and placards saying: "There is no Planet B," and "say no to burning national forests for electricity.”
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the center of Berlin for the same reasons: A firm belief in the need for greater steps to fight climate change. Prior to the march, organizers of the Global Climate March expected around 15,000 people to take part.
The protesters started at the main railway station, passing the parliament buildings and marched towards the Brandenburg Gate, carrying flags and banners with inscriptions such as “100 percent renewable energy – stop coal,” while a tank with a flag sticking out of its gun turret also participated.
According to estimates made by Greenpeace, around 20,000 protesters rallied in Madrid to make their feelings known about the need to fight climate change. The march saw plenty of people in fancy dress, which included a polar bear and a panda embracing one another, while holding up a sign saying, “Stop CO2.” Demonstrators marched towards the central Puerta del Sol square.
The demonstrations were not just confined to the Spanish capital, with protests also taking place in Barcelona. People of all ages could be seen taking part as they made their way through the city’s streets.
After crowds took to the streets of London on Saturday to protest against a possible British bombing campaign in Syria, demonstrators were out in force again, this time to rally against climate change.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the British capital. They were joined by celebrities, such as actresses Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave, as well as designer Vivienne Westwood. Participants called on the UK government make a greater shift towards renewable energy and curb rising temperatures.
Music fans were also given an unexpected surprise, as Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke started DJ-ing aboard a giant ship, which was being driven by a polar bear – not something one would witness in London everyday.
Thousands marched in downtown Ottawa, with people also arriving in the capital on buses from other Canadian towns. The rally is said to be one of the largest the city has ever seen.
Activists gathered at Ottawa City Hall at 12:30pm and marched towards Parliament Hill carrying green banners. Several turned up in animal costumes, with people dressing as bees, fish and polar bears.
In Latin America, green activists took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, having turned the march into a colorful parade.
To promote climate protection, a group of people staged a performance during the rally. Wearing dirty clothes, they lay on the ground alongside banners that read "I am the river Doce". The river in southeast Brazil is of great economic importance for the region. However, with large industrial companies operating in its basin, its waters are said to contain toxic materials. A mine dam on the river which had been holding back waste water recently collapsed, causing significant ecological damage.
In Hong Kong, hundreds marched through the streets and by the famous harbor calling on international governments to reach a climate agreement.
Some of the activists were dressed as polar bears, carrying banners that read "homeless and hungry" and "give me back my winter."
The march in the French capital was restricted by authorities because of the ban on gatherings introduced after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. But despite official restrictions, crowds gathered near Place de la Republique in the city center, with unsanctioned protest resulting in violent clashes with law enforcement.
Riot police repeatedly attempted to push back the protesters, spraying the crowds with tear gas. Over 200 people were arrested in the scuffles, AFP reported citing officials. Between 200 and 300 activists who violated the official ban have been identified by police.
Other activists in Paris opted for more peaceful methods in order to be heard by politicians at the climate talks. Hundreds held hands while standing on sidewalks in central Paris, and even more activists brought shoes to the Place de la Republique to be left there as part of an improvised protest. The peaceful alternative resulted in thousands of pairs of shoes being abandoned at the square, with Pope Francis and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon also having donated their shoes to add to the Paris installation.
The important environmental meeting in Paris, known as COP21, due to start Monday will be attended by almost 150 world leaders and 22,000 other officials. During the two-week-long event, participants will attempt to reach a global deal on cutting carbon emissions to limit climate change and keep average global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius.
State leaders have expressed hopes for progress, after most countries submitted pledges and measures to reduce their own CO2 emissions. But the UN, which seeks to impose top-down targets, has opposed the voluntary moves.
More than 5,000 people flocked to City Hall in New York to take part in an environmental gathering there.
Environmental activists have also held a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington DC, urging US President Barack Obama, who is attending the conference in Paris, to adopt binding targets for emissions reduction.
Over on the West Coast, a few hundred people gathered outside Los Angeles’ city hall.