Thou­sands muster for cli­mate ral­lies

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NEW YORK — Celebri­ties, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and the masses ral­lied in New York and across the globe on Sun­day de­mand­ing ur­gent ac­tion on cli­mate change, with or­gan­is­ers say­ing 600,000 peo­ple hit the streets.

Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Leonardo DiCaprio, UN chief Ban Ki- moon and Mayor Bill de Bla­sio all marched down New York’s Sixth Av­enue, as part of what was pro­claimed the largest cli­mate protest world­wide in his­tory.

There were colour­ful and bois­ter­ous ral­lies in other ma­jor ci­ties in Latin Amer­ica, Europe, In­dia and Aus­tralia, de­signed to build pres­sure ahead of a cli­mat­e­change sum­mit hosted by Ban in New York to­day.

In New York, where or­gan­is­ers said...

... 310,000 peo­ple took part, el­derly pro­test­ers – lean­ing on walk­ing sticks and sit­ting in wheel­chairs – joined young par­ents with chil­dren in strollers, adults in fancy dress and com­mu­nity groups.

There were chants of Hey, hey, ho, ho, fos­sil fu­els have got to go, as the good-na­tured march snaked down Sixth Av­enue with gi­ant floats, bal­loons and ban­ners with slo­gans such as Ur­gent, Save our

Planet. Ban praised de Bla­sio for an­nounc­ing on Sun­day that New York would re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions by 80 per cent from 2005 lev­els by 2050.

“I am over­whelmed by such a strong power, en­ergy and voice of the peo­ple. I hope this voice will be truly re­flected to the lead­ers when they meet on Septem­ber 23rd,” Ban told re­porters.

“There is no plan B be­cause we do not have planet B. We have to work and gal­vanise our ac­tion.” The UN sec­re­tary gen­eral walked nine blocks in the pa­rade with US for­mer vice pres­i­dent Al Gore, who is now a cli­mate ad­vo­cate, de Bla­sio, French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius and French Ecol­ogy Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal.

“Our mis­sion is to make this a de­ci­sive mo­ment, a turn­ing-point mo­ment and I felt to­day that I was see­ing his­tory start­ing to be made,” de Bla­sio said.

The Peo­ple’s Cli­mate March in New York was en­dorsed by more than 1,400 or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­ment, faith and jus­tice groups, as well as labour unions. Stu­dents mo­bilised marchers from more than 300 col­lege cam­puses.

Mel­bourne to Bo­gota

In ad­di­tion to New York, another 270,000 peo­ple turned out at about 2,500 events around the world, or­gan­is­ers said.

In London, an es­ti­mated 40,000 peo­ple pa­raded past Trafal­gar Square and the Houses of Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing ac­tress Emma Thomp­son, who likened the threat posed by cli­mate change to a Mar­tian in­va­sion.

The pres­sure group Avaaz, which helped or­gan­ise the ral­lies, said 30,000 peo­ple turned up in Mel­bourne and at least 15,000 in Berlin, where the crowd braved pour­ing rain, and another 5,000 in Rio de Janeiro.

In Paris, where po­lice es­ti­mated that 4,800 peo­ple protested, many came on bikes with ban­ners that read Cli­mate in dan­ger or World lead­ers, act! “Be­fore we could say we didn’t know. Now we know. Cli­mate change is al­ready un­der way,” Ni­co­lasHu­lot, theFrench­pres­i­dent’s spe­cial en­voy for the pro­tec­tion of the planet, told the crowd.

In Madrid, hun­dreds gath­ered in front of the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry, bran­dish­ing signs with slo­gans in­clud­ing There ’ s no Planet B, Change your life, not your cli­mate, and Our cli­mate, your decision.

In Cairns, Aus­tralia, where fi­nance min­is­ters from G-20 na­tions were meet­ing, more than 100 peo­ple wear­ing green pa­per hearts around their necks gath­ered out­side the venue. —

An es­ti­mated 400,000 peo­ple march in Man­hat­tan, New York at the week­end call­ing for in­creased mea­sures to curb global warm­ing ahead of the UN cli­mate sum­mit. — KY­ODO/VNA Photo

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