Ral­lies pres­sure UN cli­mate sum­mit

Clashes erupt at Paris demo

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

PARIS: Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from Sydney to Lon­don joined one of the big­gest days of cli­mate change ac­tivism yes­ter­day, telling world lead­ers gath­er­ing for a sum­mit in Paris there is “No Planet B” in the fight against global warm­ing. In the French cap­i­tal, where demon­stra­tions were banned by the au­thor­i­ties af­ter at­tacks by Is­lamic State mil­i­tants killed 130 peo­ple on Nov 13, activists laid out more than 20,000 pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique to sym­bol­ize ab­sent marchers.

Among the high heels and san­dals were a pair of plain black shoes sent by Pope Fran­cis, who has been a vo­cal ad­vo­cate for ac­tion to pre­vent dan­ger­ous cli­mate change, and jog­ging shoes from UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon. One ac­tivist, dressed in white as an an­gel with large wings, held a sign say­ing “coal kills”. About 10,000 peo­ple also joined arms to form a hu­man chain through Paris along the 3-km route of the banned march, or­ga­niz­ers said. “This is a mo­ment for the whole world to join hands,” said Iain Keith, cam­paign di­rec­tor for Avaaz, one of the or­gan­is­ers.

Else­where, more than 2,000 events were be­ing held in cities in­clud­ing Lon­don, Sao Paulo and New York, making it per­haps the big­gest day of cli­mate ac­tion in history on the eve of the Paris sum­mit which runs from Nov 30-Dec 11 and will be at­tended by about 150 heads of gov­ern­ment. Around the world, activists marched, dressed as polar bears or pen­guins at risk from melt­ing ice, or chanted slogans such as “cli­mate jus­tice”.

In Sydney, about 45,000 peo­ple are es­ti­mated to have marched through the cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict to­wards the Opera House. Pro­test­ers held plac­ards read­ing: “There is no Planet B” and “Say no to burn­ing na­tional forests for elec­tric­ity”. US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jin­ping will be among the lead­ers at­tend­ing the start of the sum­mit, which or­ga­niz­ers hope will pro­duce a first legally bind­ing agree­ment to com­mit both rich and de­vel­op­ing na­tions to curb­ing emis­sions of green­house gases, blamed for warm­ing the planet, be­yond 2020.

Hopes are high that the Paris sum­mit will not fail like the pre­vi­ous such meet­ing six years ago in Copen­hagen. But all sides say pledges made in Paris will be in­suf­fi­cient to limit a rise in global tem­per­a­tures to 2 de­grees Cel­sius above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, widely viewed as a thresh­old for dan­ger­ous changes in the planet’s cli­mate sys­tem.

Al­most all the demon­stra­tions were peace­ful but, af­ter the hu­man chain protest in Paris, riot po­lice fired tear gas and clashed with about 200 pro­test­ers, some wear­ing masks, in the Place de la Republique. Demon­stra­tors car­ried ban­ners call­ing for the de­fence of the cli­mate and democ­racy. The square has been a gath­er­ing place for Parisians since the Nov 13 at­tacks. Riot po­lice took ac­tion af­ter a group of pro­test­ers pelted of­fi­cers with bot­tles and can­dles from one of the trib­utes to the vic­tims of the at­tacks. Around 100 peo­ple were ar­rested. Us­ing the state of emer­gency rules, po­lice put 24 green activists un­der house ar­rest ahead of the sum­mit, say­ing they were sus­pected of plan­ning vi­o­lent protests.

In Berlin, about 5,000 peo­ple marched with some dressed as pen­guins. One car­ried a huge “There is no planet B for pen­guins,” ban­ner. In Lon­don, hun­dreds of marchers were joined by fash­ion de­signer Vivi­enne West­wood and ac­tress Emma Thomp­son. “This is our planet and we are in deep, grave dan­ger,” Thomp­son told Sky tele­vi­sion. In the big­gest sin­gle march on cli­mate change ever staged, last year or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated 310,000 peo­ple took part in New York. — Agen­cies

LON­DON: Cli­mate change demon­stra­tors march to de­mand curbs to car­bon pol­lu­tion yes­ter­day on the eve of the cli­mate sum­mit in Paris. — AFP

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