Thousands muster for climate rallies
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 Yorks 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 Peoples 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 didnt know. Now we know. Climate change is already under way, NicolasHulot, theFrenchpresidents 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