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Hundreds of Thousands Take to the Streets Demanding Urgent Action on Climate Change

More than 2,300 events spread across 175 countries took place this weekend prior to the Paris climate talks, which begin Monday. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding world leaders take urgent action on climate change.

The Global Climate March—including marches, concerts, rallies, workshops, bike rides and film screenings—had one clear message: "Keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050."

“The scale and diversity of today’s events are astounding," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "Worldwide people are ready for the end of fossil fuels and the dawn of renewables. World leaders can no longer ignore this urgent call for action as the climate crisis continues to unfold. It is time for them to stand on the right side of history.”

Some of the highlights from events on Saturday included:

  • In Australia, one of the earliest marches, 60,000 people marched through the streets of Melbourne. There were also marches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and Perth.

  • In the Pacific Islands there were marches in Fiji and the Marshall Islands with gatherings Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea.

  • 2,000 people ran through the streets of Cairo, Egypt to raise awareness on climate impacts and call for urgent climate action.

  • More than 15,000 people marched for climate justice in Quezon City and across parts of the Philippines.

  • Tokyo, Japan saw 1,000 people march demanding a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

  • 5,000 people took to the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh and thousands more across the country.

  • Johannesburg, South Africa saw 500 people mobilize to demand an end of coal.

On Sunday, large events took place in London, New York, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Sydney, Manila, Kyoto and Paris where climate activists formed a human chain along Boulevard Voltaire, one of Paris’ iconic avenues.

In London, the BBC reported that 10,000 people marched from Hyde Park to Whitehall, the largest demonstration that took place this weekend.

Many celebrities joined the London march on Sunday—one of 70 events that took place in the UK—including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, Green MP Caroline Lucas, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and musician Peter Gabriel.

"The issue is really being taken more seriously and the politicians—I think if they see these numbers too—will begin to act definitely and I hope achieve agreement," Gabriel told the BBC.

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A group of Sámi, an indigenous people from the Arctic, sang on stage in London. Watch here:

On Sunday, thousands of pairs of shoes were put in the Place de la Republique in Paris by the advocacy group Avaaz. The shoes represent climate campaigners who were banned from marching. The planned climate rally in Paris was canceled by French authorities in response to the terrorist attacks on Nov. 13.

Another demonstration took place today in Place de Republique. The protest involved some parts of the climate movement in France. For over an hour, this unpermitted demonstration took place peacefully, without confrontation with the police or other security forces, according to 350.org.

However, a small group of protesters unaffiliated with the climate movement arrived at Republique and began to clash with the police, violating the nonviolent pledge that every group involved in the climate coalition here in France has agreed to, 350.org said. Police responded with tear gas and pepper spray and then the protest dispersed.

“The human chain that stretched along Boulevard Voltaire was a beautiful and powerful event, the type of mobilization that should be allowed to continue in Paris while the climate talks are underway and beyond," 350.org France Campaigner Nicolas Haeringer said. "We will stand against any attempts by the French authorities to use the incidents this afternoon to unnecessarily clamp down on civil liberties and prevent the types of demonstrations that are at the heart of any democracy and climate progress.”

Activists will continue to find creative ways to make their voices heard throughout the climate talks in Paris over the coming weeks, added 350.org.

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Pope Francis: ‘Catastrophic’ Climate if Paris Talks Fail

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