Ahead of the U.N. negotiations in Paris, people around the world called for a strong agreement to fight global climate change by taking to the streets. This past weekend, some 2,300 different marches were organized around the world, according to Avaaz. 350.org estimates that roughly 785,000 people around the world participated.
A massive march was planned for Paris on Sunday, but after the deadly terrorist attacks earlier this month, the main march was cancelled. Nonetheless, activists staged a massive human chain of protesters, who held hands and carried signs in a single-file line along the route of the planned march. A “silent march” was also organized in the Place de la Republique, with thousands of pairs of shoes representing the protesters who weren’t allowed to be there. Government authorities said some protesters were in violation of the ban on marches, resulting in clashes with the police.
Elsewhere around the world, massive marches attracted tens of thousands. The Guardian reports that 60,000 people joined the protest in Melbourne, and 50,000 people joined the protest in London.
Here in New York City, the numbers didn’t rival the turnout we saw last year for the People’s Climate March. Over a thousand demonstrators gathered at City Hall, representing organizations like the Green Party, the Sierra Club, 350.org and The People's Climate Movement. The event's leaders not only called for a robust agreement in Paris, but also called on New York City officials to transition the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Science educator Bill Nye said that renewable energy would create good jobs for New Yorkers and improve the quality of life for everyone. “If we just get started, we can do this,” he said.
Leslie Cagan, an activist representing the People’s Climate Movement, also called for the city to implement mandatory retrofitting of existing buildings to improve their efficiency as well as for renewable energy to be installed at all government buildings, starting with public schools.
Many activists felt pressure to make up for the cancelled events in Paris, and send a message to the delegates meeting at the U.N. “If they can’t march in Paris, we have to here,” said Cagan. “As New Yorkers, we join the world in the urgent call for binding legal action.”